DYNAMO’s purpose is to better understand the Madden-Julian Oscillation, or MJO, a 30–60 day recurring tropical disturbance that influences weather around the world. “The system slowly progresses eastward into the Pacific, but we see wind signals around the whole globe,” Schumacher says. The MJO has been implicated in West Coast flooding and hurricane formation in the Atlantic. It can also affect the El Niño Southern Oscillation, which affects Texas temperature and precipitation.
Atmospheric scientist Courtney Schumacher teaching in the classroomUnderstanding the dynamics of the MJO would also allow for more accurate forecasts, Schumacher says. Current forecasting models lose accuracy as they look further into the future. After a certain point, forecasts lack enough accuracy to be useful. “We’re looking at getting past two weeks,” Schumacher says.
SMART-R being offloaded in Addu Atoll, MaldivesTexas A&M joins a large group of U.S. universities, national laboratories, agencies, and research centers such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NOAA, and Department of Energy, and 16 countries in DYNAMO. The project is part of the Cooperative Indian Ocean Experiment on Intraseasonal Variability in the Year 2011, which is managed by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. On Addu Atoll, the Texas A&M group will use a truck-mounted Doppler radar system, SMART-R, to study the MJO. “SMART-R is one of three radar systems that will be there and will be the workhorse radar providing large-scale context for the other radar systems,” Schumacher says.
Schumacher will be in the Maldives through December, and students will rotate through the station at Addu Atoll until April. Graduate students in the rotation are Jonathan Fliegel , Justin Stachnik, Amanda DePasquale and Fiaz Ahmed. Undergraduate honors meteorology student Stephanie Stevenson will be in the Maldives during the semester break.
For more information about DYNAMO, visit the project's education and outreach website.
By George Hale
Sept. 26, 2011