Climate Dynamics

, Volume 42, Issue 9–10, pp 2411–2421 | Cite as

Variability of cloud liquid water and ice over South Asia from TMI estimates

  • A. Bhattacharya
  • A. ChakrabortyEmail author
  • V. Venugopal


In this study, the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission based Microwave Imager estimates (2A12) have been used to compare and contrast the characteristics of cloud liquid water and ice over the Indian land region and the ocean surrounding it, during the premonsoon (May) and monsoon (June–September) seasons. Based on the spatial homogeneity of rainfall, we have selected five regions for our study (three over ocean, two over land). Comparison across three ocean regions suggests that the cloud liquid water (CLW) over the orographically influenced Arabian Sea (close to the Indian west coast) behaves differently from the CLW over a trapped ocean (Bay of Bengal) or an open ocean (equatorial Indian Ocean). Specifically, the Arabian Sea region shows higher liquid water for a lower range of rainfall, whereas the Bay of Bengal and the equatorial Indian Ocean show higher liquid water for a higher range of rainfall. Apart from geographic differences, we also documented seasonal differences by comparing CLW profiles between monsoon and premonsoon periods, as well as between early and peak phases of the monsoon. We find that the CLW during the lean periods of rainfall (May or June) is higher than during the peak and late monsoon season (July–September) for raining clouds. As active and break phases are important signatures of the monsoon progression, we also analysed the differences in CLW during various phases of the monsoon, namely, active, break, active-to-break and break-to-active transition phases. We find that the cloud liquid water content during the break-to-active transition phase is significantly higher than during the active-to-break transition phase over central India. We speculate that this could be attributed to higher amount of aerosol loading over this region during the break phase. We lend credence to this aerosol-CLW/rain association by comparing the central Indian CLW with that over southeast Asia (where the aerosol loading is significantly smaller) and find that in the latter region, there are no significant differences in CLW during the different phases of the monsoon. While our hypothesis needs to be further investigated with numerical models, the results presented in this study can potentially serve as a good benchmark in evaluating the performance of cloud resolving models over the Indian region.


Cloud microphysics Hydrometeors Precipitation Aerosols Active and break monsoon 



The data used in this study were acquired as part of the NASA’s Earth-Sun System Division and archived and distributed by the Goddard Earth Sciences (GES) Data and Information Services center (DISC). Discussions with Robert Houze Jr. and Guosheng Liu are gratefully acknowledged. AC and VV acknowledge funding from the Continental Tropical Convergence Zone (CTCZ) programme under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Govt. of India. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments, which helped improve the manuscript.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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