A year and a half ago, as I traveled across the rolling prairies of Oklahoma and Kansas in search of tornadoes during the VORTEX2 field experiment, I would not have guessed that my meteorological adventures would soon take me to the equatorial Indian Ocean. In just a few hours, I will be boarding my flight to Phuket, Thailand, with a brief layover in Seoul, South Korea, to begin my scientific data-gathering adventure that will involve land, air, and sea. I will be serving as a radar scientist aboard the R/V Roger Revelle as part of the international field experiment called DYNAMO, which is short for the “Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (http://www.eol.ucar.edu/projects/dynamo/).”
The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is a weather phenomena that routinely affects the global atmospheric circulation on monthly timescales, consisting of a large mass of thunderstorms that develops near the equatorial Indian Ocean and eastern Africa. These storms progress eastward, and the MJO is manifested as a global anomalous circulation that affects weather all around the globe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MJO). But how and why do these storms initiate over that part of the world? What are the conditions that cause such a periodic event to happen? Is there anything special about the convection that is found over the equatorial Indian Ocean during an active MJO phase? What are the mechanisms that allow the MJO to influence weather around the world? DYNAMO will help shed light on the mystery that surrounds the MJO.
Teams of scientists from all over the world have convened in the equatorial Indian Ocean, with air, land, and sea instruments being deployed simultaneously to collect much-needed data. I will be joining the Colorado State University crew aboard the R/V Roger Revelle, which is a world-class research ship run by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and owned by the U.S. Navy (http://shipsked.ucsd.edu/ships/roger_revelle/photos.php). Shipboard assignments are divided into 5 week periods, and my shift beginning this week will be the 3rd cruise of this project.
I will try to write periodic updates on this blog to describe the progress of my adventures at sea, but given the limited internet bandwidth while aboard the ship, updates may only be sporadic. But for those who are interested, publicly available real-time data from DYNAMO will be streamed on various websites (http://johnson.atmos.colostate.edu/dynamo/products/satellite/index.php), and the TOGA radar that I will be operating will transmit an image every 30 minutes via the internet (http://radarmet.atmos.colostate.edu/dynamo/). Live photos from the Revelle can be found here (http://rtapps.ucsd.edu/hiseasnet/rtship/index.php?ship=revelle) and here (http://rtapps.ucsd.edu/rtimbank/rtimbank.php?camera=SIO_Revelle_Axis3).