Climate Dynamics

, Volume 48, Issue 5–6, pp 1571–1594 | Cite as

Roles of land surface albedo and horizontal resolution on the Indian summer monsoon biases in a coupled ocean–atmosphere tropical-channel model

  • Guillaume SamsonEmail author
  • Sébastien Masson
  • Fabien Durand
  • Pascal Terray
  • Sarah Berthet
  • Swen Jullien


The Indian summer monsoon (ISM) simulated over the 1989–2009 period with a new 0.75° ocean–atmosphere coupled tropical-channel model extending from 45°S to 45°N is presented. The model biases are comparable to those commonly found in coupled global climate models (CGCMs): the Findlater jet is too weak, precipitations are underestimated over India while they are overestimated over the southwestern Indian Ocean, South-East Asia and the Maritime Continent. The ISM onset is delayed by several weeks, an error which is also very common in current CGCMs. We show that land surface temperature errors are a major source of the ISM low-level circulation and rainfall biases in our model: a cold bias over the Middle-East (ME) region weakens the Findlater jet while a warm bias over India strengthens the monsoon circulation over the southern Bay of Bengal. A surface radiative heat budget analysis reveals that the cold bias is due to an overestimated albedo in this desertic ME region. Two new simulations using a satellite-observed land albedo show a significant and robust improvement in terms of ISM circulation and precipitation. Furthermore, the ISM onset is shifted back by 1 month and becomes in phase with observations. Finally, a supplementary set of simulations at 0.25°-resolution confirms the robustness of our results and shows an additional reduction of the warm and dry bias over India. These findings highlight the strong sensitivity of the simulated ISM rainfall and its onset timing to the surface land heating pattern and amplitude, especially in the ME region. It also illustrates the key-role of land surface processes and horizontal resolution for improving the ISM representation, and more generally the monsoons, in current CGCMs.


Indian summer monsoon Land surface albedo Horizontal resolution Precipitation biases Monsoon onset CGCM 



This work was founded by the PULSATION ANR-11-MONU-0010 project of the French National Research Agency (ANR) and the European Commission’s 7th Framework Program, under Grant Agreement number 282672, EMBRACE project. Partial support (P. Terray) given by the Earth System Science Organization, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India (Project no MM/SERP/CNRS/2013/INT-10/002) is also acknowledged. Simulations were performed on the Curie supercomputer, owned by GENCI and operated into the TGCC by CEA. We acknowledge PRACE for awarding us access to the Curie supercomputer thought its 3rd, 5th and 9th calls. WRF-ARW was provided by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guillaume Samson
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sébastien Masson
    • 2
  • Fabien Durand
    • 1
  • Pascal Terray
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sarah Berthet
    • 1
  • Swen Jullien
    • 4
  1. 1.LEGOSUMR5566 CNRS-CNES-IRD-UPSToulouseFrance
  2. 2.LOCEANSorbonne Universités (UPMC, Univ Paris 06)-CNRS-IRD-MNHNParisFrance
  3. 3.Indo-French Cell for Water Sciences, IISc-NIO-IITM–IRD Joint International LaboratoryIITMPuneIndia
  4. 4.LOPSIFREMER, Univ. Brest, CNRS, IRD, IUEMBrestFrance

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