Dependence of Indian monsoon rainfall on moisture fluxes across the Arabian Sea and the impact of coupled model sea surface temperature biases
Levine, R. C. and Turner, A. G. (2012) Dependence of Indian monsoon rainfall on moisture fluxes across the Arabian Sea and the impact of coupled model sea surface temperature biases. Climate Dynamics, 38 (11-12). pp. 2167-2190. ISSN 0930-7575
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00382-011-1096-z
The Arabian Sea is an important moisture source for Indian monsoon rainfall. The skill of climate models in simulating the monsoon and its variability varies widely, while Arabian Sea cold sea surface temperature (SST) biases are common in coupled models and may therefore influence the monsoon and its sensitivity to climate change. We examine the relationship between monsoon rainfall, moisture fluxes and Arabian Sea SST in observations and climate model simulations. Observational analysis shows strong monsoons depend on moisture fluxes across the Arabian Sea, however detecting consistent signals with contemporaneous summer SST anomalies is complicated in the observed system by air/sea coupling and large-scale induced variability such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation feeding back onto the monsoon through development of the Somali Jet. Comparison of HadGEM3 coupled and atmosphere-only configurations suggests coupled model cold SST biases significantly reduce monsoon rainfall. Idealised atmosphere-only experiments show that the weakened monsoon can be mainly attributed to systematic Arabian Sea cold SST biases during summer and their impact on the monsoon-moisture relationship. The impact of large cold SST biases on atmospheric moisture content over the Arabian Sea, and also the subsequent reduced latent heat release over India, dominates over any enhancement in the land-sea temperature gradient and results in changes to the mean state. We hypothesize that a cold base state will result in underestimation of the impact of larger projected Arabian Sea SST changes in future climate, suggesting that Arabian Sea biases should be a clear target for model development.