The influence of the Madden–Julian Oscillation on the wet season rainfall over Saudi Arabia

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The influence of Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is examined on intraseasonal rainfall variability during the wet season (November–April) by using the real-time multivariate (RMM) MJO index, ERA5 reanalysis, and daily observed rainfall dataset from 26 stations in Saudi Arabia for the period 1985–2021. The MJO 8 phases are categorized into wet (phases 1, 2, 7 and 8) and dry (phases 3, 4, 5, and 6) based on the Saudi Arabian intraseasonal rainfall characteristics associated with MJO phases. It is observed that 41% (46%) of total (extreme) rainfall events occur during the MJO wet phases, while only 23% (18%) of such events occur during MJO dry phases. The intraseasonal variability signals are isolated from daily dataset by applying a 30- to 90-day period bandpass filter. The analyses are validated by constructing composites of daily filtered precipitation anomalies during MJO 8 phases. The physical mechanism indicates that the significant intraseasonal wetter conditions are linked with enhanced easterly and southeasterly moisture convergence over Saudi Arabia from the Arabian Sea. The atmospheric cyclonic circulation anomalies during the wet phases favor more moisture convergence and vertical moisture advection, which may lead to enhanced convection and rainfall. However, during the dry phases, anticyclonic circulation anomalies enhance moisture divergence and reduce vertical moisture advection and consequently suppress the convection and rainfall activity over Saudi Arabia. The analyses show that the intraseasonal rainfall variability over Saudi Arabia is significantly influenced by the MJO during the wet season. These findings have important implications for sub-seasonal rainfall forecasting in Saudi Arabia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalEarth Systems and Environment
Early online date30 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Intraseasonal rainfall
  • Madden–Julian oscillation
  • Moist static energy
  • Moisture convergence
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Wet season

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