The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) are two important modes of tropical climate variability that influence Australian weather and climate. There is a growing understanding of the importance of interactions between ENSO and the MJO for recent extreme rainfall events. Some aspects of these interactions are relatively well understood. For example, the relationship between the MJO and El Niño (the warm phase of ENSO) has been uncovered by Hendon et al. (2007): enhanced MJO activity in the equatorial western Pacific Ocean in austral late autumn leads to the development of El Niño in the subsequent spring-summer. In comparison, the impact of the MJO on La Niña (the cool phase of ENSO) development has received less attention. In particular, about half of La Niña events occur in two consecutive years, most recently in 2020 and 2021. This project aims to explore the role of the MJO in modulating these multi-year La Niña events. 

The student can be based at the University of Melbourne or the University of New South Wales Sydney. Some experience in programming and data visualisation (e.g., using Python, MATLAB, NCL) is desirable, but is not essential. The timing of the project can be arranged flexibly with the student and is available from December 2022. 

To apply: the Undergraduate Scholarship application form can be found here.

Dr Dongxia Yang and Dr Zoe Gillett

This project can be based at either UNSW or The University of Melbourne.


Hendon, H.H., Wheeler, M.C. and Zhang, C., 2007. Seasonal dependence of the MJO–ENSO relationship. Journal of Climate, 20(3), pp. 531-543.