Diagnosis of Local Land-Atmosphere Feedbacks in India

O.A. Tuinenburg, R.W.A. Hutjes, C.M.J. Jacobs, P. Kabat

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Following the convective triggering potential (CTP)–humidity index (HIlow) framework by Findell and Eltahir, the sensitivity of atmospheric convection to soil moisture conditions is studied for India. Using the same slab model as Findell and Eltahir, atmospheric conditions in which the land surface state affects convective precipitation are determined. For India, CTP–HIlow thresholds for land surface–atmosphere feedbacks are shown to be slightly different than for the United States. Using atmospheric sounding data from 1975 to 2009, the seasonal and spatial variations in feedback strength have been assessed. The patterns of feedback strengths thus obtained have been analyzed in relation to the monsoon timing. During the monsoon season, atmospheric conditions where soil moisture positively influences precipitation are present about 25% of the time. During onset and retreat of the monsoon, the south and east of India show more potential for feedbacks than the north. These feedbacks suggest that large-scale irrigation in the south and east may increase local precipitation. To test this, precipitation data (from 1960 to 2004) for the period about three weeks just before the monsoon onset date have been studied. A positive trend in the precipitation just before the monsoon onset is found for irrigated stations. It is shown that for irrigated stations, the trend in the precipitation just before the monsoon onset is positive for the period 1960–2004. For nonirrigated stations, there is no such upward trend in this period. The precipitation trend for irrigated areas might be due to a positive trend in the extent of irrigated areas, with land–atmosphere feedbacks inducing increased precipitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-266
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • boundary layer interactions
  • moisture-rainfall feedback
  • asian summer monsoon
  • soil-moisture
  • part i
  • coupling experiment
  • precipitation
  • irrigation
  • surface
  • variability


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