Climate Dynamics

, Volume 41, Issue 5–6, pp 1651–1669 | Cite as

Role of ocean–atmosphere interaction on northward propagation of Indian summer monsoon intra-seasonal oscillations (MISO)

  • S. Sharmila
  • P. A. Pillai
  • S. Joseph
  • M. Roxy
  • R. P. M. Krishna
  • R. Chattopadhyay
  • S. Abhilash
  • A. K. SahaiEmail author
  • B. N. Goswami
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Climate Forecast System Version 2 (CFSv2)


Atmospheric dynamical mechanisms have been prevalently used to explain the characteristics of the summer monsoon intraseasonal oscillation (MISO), which dictates the wet and dry spells of the monsoon rainfall. Recent studies show that ocean–atmosphere coupling has a vital role in simulating the observed amplitude and relationship between precipitation and sea surface temperature (SST) at the intraseasonal scale. However it is not clear whether this role is simply ‘passive’ response to the atmospheric forcing alone, or ‘active’ in modulating the northward propagation of MISO, and also whether the extent to which it modulates is considerably noteworthy. Using coupled NCEP–Climate Forecast System (CFSv2) model and its atmospheric component the Global Forecast System (GFS), we investigate the relative role of the atmospheric dynamics and the ocean–atmosphere coupling in the initiation, maintenance, and northward propagation of MISO. Three numerical simulations are performed including (1) CFSv2 coupled with high frequency interactive SST, the GFS forced with both (2) observed monthly SST (interpolated to daily) and (3) daily SST obtained from the CFSv2 simulations. Both CFSv2 and GFS simulate MISO of slightly higher period (~60 days) than observations (~45 days) and have reasonable seasonal rainfall over India. While MISO simulated by CFSv2 has realistic northward propagation, both the GFS model experiments show standing mode of MISO over India with no northward propagation of convection from the equator. The improvement in northward propagation in CFSv2, therefore, may not be due to improvement of the model physics in the atmospheric component alone. Our analysis indicates that even with the presence of conducive vertical wind shear, the absence of meridional humidity gradient and moistening of the atmosphere column north of convection hinders the northward movement of convection in GFS. This moistening mechanism works only in the presence of an ‘active’ ocean. In CFSv2, the lead-lag relationship between the atmospheric fluxes, SST and convection are maintained, while such lead-lag is unrealistic in the uncoupled simulations. This leads to the conclusion that high frequent and interactive ocean–atmosphere coupling is a necessary and crucial condition for reproducing the realistic northward propagation of MISO in this particular model.


Summer monsoon intraseasonal oscillation Northward propagation Atmospheric dynamics Ocean–atmosphere coupling Climate Forecast System 



This work is a part of PhD dissertation of Sharmila S, financially supported by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi, India. The authors thank the Editor and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. Support from NCEP in providing the CFSv2 model, through the National Monsoon Mission is acknowledged. All model runs are carried out on Prithvi IBM High Performance Computing system at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune India. The authors also wish to thank NCEP-NCAR, USA for the reanalysis datasets, GPCP and IMD for daily gridded rainfall data. NASA/GSFC is thankfully acknowledged for TMI satellite data available at The surface flux data is obtained from TropFlux Project ( The software GRACE and GrADS (COLA) are also acknowledged. IITM is fully supported by Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Govt. of India, New Delhi.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Sharmila
    • 1
  • P. A. Pillai
    • 1
  • S. Joseph
    • 1
  • M. Roxy
    • 1
  • R. P. M. Krishna
    • 1
  • R. Chattopadhyay
    • 1
  • S. Abhilash
    • 1
  • A. K. Sahai
    • 1
    Email author
  • B. N. Goswami
    • 1
  1. 1.Indian Institute of Tropical MeteorologyPashanIndia

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