NCAR scientists discover powerful tropical waves

In 1971, NCAR scientists Roland Madden and Paul Julian were researching tropical winds when they discovered huge atmospheric waves that circle the globe in the tropics. This phenomenon, called the Madden-Julian Oscillation, has a major influence on many weather and climate systems worldwide, including the development of tropical cyclones. Until the early 1980s little attention was paid to this oscillation and some scientists questioned its global significance. But the El Niņo of 1982 brought attention to the phenomenon and since that time it has been the subject of intense, ongoing study.