Climate Dynamics

, Volume 51, Issue 9–10, pp 3847–3863 | Cite as

Ice versus liquid water saturation in simulations of the Indian summer monsoon

  • Russell H. Glazer
  • Vasubandhu Misra


At the same temperature, below 0 °C, the saturation vapor pressure (SVP) over ice is slightly less than the SVP over liquid water. Numerical models use the Clausius–Clapeyron relation to calculate the SVP and relative humidity, but there is not a consistent method for the treatment of saturation above the freezing level where ice and mixed-phase clouds may be present. In the context of current challenges presented by cloud microphysics in climate models, we argue that a better understanding of the impact that this treatment has on saturation-related processes like cloud formation and precipitation, is needed. This study explores the importance of the SVP calculation through model simulations of the Indian summer monsoon (ISM) using the regional spectral model (RSM) at 15 km grid spacing. A combination of seasonal and multiyear simulations is conducted with two saturation parameterizations. In one, the SVP over liquid water is prescribed through the entire atmospheric column (woIce), and in another the SVP over ice is used above the freezing level (wIce). When SVP over ice is prescribed, a thermodynamic drying of the middle and upper troposphere above the freezing level occurs due to increased condensation. In the wIce runs, the model responds to the slight decrease in the saturation condition by increasing, relative to the SVP over liquid water only run, grid-scale condensation of water. Increased grid-scale mean seasonal precipitation is noted across the ISM region in the simulation with SVP over ice prescribed. Modification of the middle and upper troposphere moisture results in a decrease in mean seasonal mid-level cloud amount and an increase in high cloud amount when SVP over ice is prescribed. Multiyear simulations strongly corroborate the qualitative results found in the seasonal simulations regarding the impact of ice versus liquid water SVP on the ISM’s mean precipitation and moisture field. The mean seasonal rainfall difference over All India between wIce and woIce is around 10% of the observed interannual variability of seasonal All India rainfall.


Indian monsoon Regional modeling Saturation vapor pressure Cloud microphysics scheme 



The authors would like to thank the contributions of two anonymous reviewers to previous versions of the manuscript which greatly improved this study. The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support given by the Earth System Science Organization, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India (Grant number MM/SERP/FSU/2014/SSC-02/002) to conduct this research under Monsoon Mission. We thank the Indian Meteorological Department for the availability of the daily rain analysis over India. Computing resources were provided by the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas and XSEDE under Grant number ATM10010 and Florida State University’s High Performance Computer. The authors would also like to acknowledge Dr. Akhilesh Mishra at FSU COAPS for his advice and assistance in this work.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Ocean-Atmosphere Prediction Studies (COAPS)Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric ScienceFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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