Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 132, Issue 3–4, pp 835–849 | Cite as

Observational evidence for the relationship between spring soil moisture and June rainfall over the Indian region

  • B. KanthaRao
  • V. Rakesh
Original Paper


Understanding the relationship between gradually varying soil moisture (SM) conditions and monsoon rainfall anomalies is crucial for seasonal prediction. Though it is an important issue, very few studies in the past attempted to diagnose the linkages between the antecedent SM and Indian summer monsoon rainfall. This study examined the relationship between spring (April–May) SM and June rainfall using observed data during the period 1979–2010. The Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analyses showed that the spring SM plays a significant role in June rainfall over the Central India (CI), South India (SI), and North East India (NEI) regions. The composite anomaly of the spring SM and June rainfall showed that excess (deficit) June rainfall over the CI was preceded by wet (dry) spring SM. The anomalies in surface-specific humidity, air temperature, and surface radiation fluxes also supported the existence of a positive SM-precipitation feedback over the CI. On the contrary, excess (deficit) June rainfall over the SI and NEI region were preceded by dry (wet) spring SM. The abnormal wet (dry) SM over the SI and NEI decreased (increased) the 2-m air temperature and increased (decreased) the surface pressure compared to the surrounding oceans which resulted in less (more) moisture transport from oceans to land (negative SM-precipitation feedback over the Indian monsoon region).



The authors are grateful to the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) for providing soil moisture data and NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA (http::// for the GPCC Precipitation data. The authors also acknowledge the support and encouragement by the Head CSIR 4PI.


  1. Albergel C et al (2013a) Monitoring multi-decadal satellite earth observation of soil moisture products through land surface reanalyses. Remote Sens Environ 138:77–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Albergel C et al (2013b) Skill and global trend analysis of soil moisture from reanalyses and microwave remote sensing. J Hydrometeorol 14(4):1259–1277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anusha S et al (2016) Evaluation of soil moisture data products over Indian region and analysis of spatiotemporal characteristics with respect to monsoon rainfall. J Hydrol 542:47–62Google Scholar
  4. Asharaf S, Ahrens B (2013) Soil-moisture memory in the regional climate model COSMO-CLM during the Indian summer monsoon season. J Geophys Res Atmos 118(12):6144–6151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Asharaf S, Andreas D, Ahrens B (2012) Soil moisture–precipitation feedback processes in the Indian summer monsoon season. J Hydrometeorol 13(5):1461–1474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bamzai AS, Shukla J (1999) Relation between Eurasian snow cover, snow depth, and the Indian summer monsoon: an observational study. J Clim 12(10):3117–3132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beljaars ACM, Miller MJ, Viterbo PA (1996a) The land surface–atmosphere interaction: a review based on observational and global modeling perspectives. J Geophys Res 101:7209–7225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beljaars ACM et al (1996b) The anomalous rainfall over the United States during July 1993: sensitivity to land surface parameterization and soil moisture anomalies. Mon Weather Rev 124(3):362–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bhanukumar OSRU (1988) Eurasian snow cover and seasonal forecast of Indian summer monsoon rainfall. Hydrolog Sci J 33(5):515–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chakravorty A et al (2016) A regional scale performance evaluation of SMOS and ESA-CCI soil moisture products over India with simulated soil moisture from MERRA-land. Remote Sen Environ 186:514–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Charney J et al (1977) A comparative study of the effects of albedo change on drought in semi-arid regions. J Atmos Sci 34(9):1366–1385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chow KC et al (2008) Time-lagged effects of spring Tibetan Plateau soil moisture on the monsoon over China in early summer. Int J Climatol 28(1):55–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dey B, Bhanukumar OSRU (1983) Himalayan winter snow cover area and summer monsoon rainfall over India. J Geophys Res-Oceans 88(C9):5471–5474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dickson RR (1984) Eurasian snow cover versus Indian monsoon rainfall—an extension of the Hahn–Shukla results. J Climate Appl Meteor 23:171–173Google Scholar
  15. Dorigo WA et al (2010) Error characterisation of global active and passive microwave soil moisture data sets. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 14:2605–2616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dorigo WA et al 2012. Evaluating global trends (1988–2010) in harmonized multi-satellite surface soil moisture. Geophys Res Lett. 39.18.Google Scholar
  17. Dorigo WA et al (2015) Evaluation of the ESA CCI soil moisture product using ground-based observations. Remote Sens Environ 162:380–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ek M, Mahrt L (1994) Daytime evolution of relative humidity at the boundary layer top. Mon Weather Rev 122(12):2709–2721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Eltahir EAB (1998) A soil moisture–rainfall feedback mechanism: 1. Theory and observations. Water Resour Res 34(4):765–776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fang L et al (2016) An inter-comparison of soil moisture data products from satellite remote sensing and a land surface model. Int J Appl Earth Obse Geoinf. 48:37–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fennessy MJ, Shukla J (1999) Impact of initial soil wetness on seasonal atmospheric prediction. J Clim 12(11):3167–3180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fischer EM et al (2007) Contribution of land-atmosphere coupling to recent European summer heat waves. Geophys Res Lett 34(6)Google Scholar
  23. Gadgil S et al (2004) Extremes of the Indian summer monsoon rainfall, ENSO and equatorial Indian Ocean oscillation. Geophys Res Let 31(12)Google Scholar
  24. Guillod BP et al (2015) Reconciling spatial and temporal soil moisture effects on afternoon rainfall. Nat Commun 6Google Scholar
  25. Haarsma RJ et al (2009) Drier Mediterranean soils due to greenhouse warming bring easterly winds over summertime central Europe. Geophys res let 36(4)Google Scholar
  26. Hahn DG, Shukla J (1976) An apparent relationship between Eurasian snow cover and Indian monsoon rainfall. J Atmos Sci 33(12):2461–2462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Idso SB et al (1975) The utility of surface temperature measurements for the remote sensing of surface soil water status. J Geophysic Res 80(21):3044–3049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jolliffe IT, Uddin M, Vines SK (2002) Simplified EOFs three alternatives to rotation. Clim Res 20(3):271–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jones AR, Brunsell NA (2009) Energy balance partitioning and net radiation controls on soil moisture-precipitation feedbacks. Earth Interact 13(2):1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kalnay E et al (1996) The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project. Bull Amer Meteor Soc 77:437–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kim JE, Hong SY (2007) Impact of soil moisture anomalies on summer rainfall over East Asia: a regional climate model study. J Clim 20(23):5732–5743CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Koster RD, Suarez MJ (2001) Soil moisture memory in climate models. J Hydrometeorol 2(6):558–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Koster RD et al (2004) Regions of strong coupling between soil moisture and precipitation. Science 305(5687):1138–1140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Koster RD et al (2011) The second phase of the global land–atmosphere coupling experiment: soil moisture contributions to subseasonal forecast skill. J Hydrometeorol 12(5):805–822CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Krishnamurthy V, Goswami BN (2000) Indian monsoon-ENSO relationship on interdecadal timescale. J Clim 13(3):579–595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kumar KK et al (1999) On the weakening relationship between the Indian monsoon and ENSO. Science 284(5423):2156–2159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Liu YY et al (2011) Developing an improved soil moisture dataset by blending passive and active microwave satellite-based retrievals. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 15(2):425–436Google Scholar
  38. Liu YY et al (2012) Trend-preserving blending of passive and active microwave soil moisture retrievals. Remote Sens Environ 123:280–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Meehl GA (1994) Influence of the land surface in the Asian summer monsoon: external conditions versus internal feedbacks. J Clim 7(7):1033–1049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Meng L, Quiring SM (2010) Examining the influence of spring soil moisture anomalies on summer precipitation in the US Great Plains using the community atmosphere model version 3. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (1984–2012) 115:D21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Meng L et al (2014) Statistical analysis of the relationship between spring soil moisture and summer precipitation in East China. Int J Climatol 34(5):1511–1523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pai DS et al (2011) Present operational long range forecasting system for southwest monsoon rainfall over India and its performance during 2010. Mausam 62(N2):179–196Google Scholar
  43. Pal JS, Eltahir EAB (2001) Pathways relating soil moisture conditions to future summer rainfall within a model of the land-atmosphere system. J Clim 14(6):1227–1242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pal JS, Eltahir EAB (2003) A feedback mechanism between soil-moisture distribution and storm tracks. Q J R Meteorol Soc 129(592):2279–2297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pal PK, Rakesh V, Singh R, Joshi PC (2007) Impact of satellite derived land surface parameters in regional climate simulations over India. Hydrology review (Jalvigyan Sameeksha) 22:133–156Google Scholar
  46. Parthasarathy B, Yang S (1995) Relationships between regional Indian summer monsoon rainfall and Eurasian snow cover. Adv Atmos Sci 12(2):143–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rajeevan M et al (2007) New statistical models for long-range forecasting of southwest monsoon rainfall over India. Clim Dynam 28(7–8):813–828CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rasmusson EM, Carpenter TH (1983) The relationship between eastern equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures and rainfall over India and Sri Lanka. Mon Weather Rev 111(3):517–528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Robock A et al (2003) Land surface conditions over Eurasia and Indian summer monsoon rainfall. J Geophys Res: Atmos (1984–2012) 108:D4Google Scholar
  50. Rodell M et al (2004) The global land data assimilation system. B AM Meteorol Soc 85(3):381–394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rowntree PR, Bolton JA (1983) Simulation of the atmospheric response to soil moisture anomalies over Europe. Q J R Meteor Soc 109(461):501–526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Saha SK et al (2011) Pre-onset land surface processes and ‘internal’interannual variabilities of the Indian summer monsoon. Clim dynam 36(11–12):2077–2089CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sankar R et al (1996) On the relationship between Eurasian snow cover and the Asian summer monsoon. Int J Climatol 16(6):605–616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Santanello JJA et al (2009) A modeling and observational framework for diagnosing local land–atmosphere coupling on diurnal time scales. J Hydrometeorol 10(3):577–599Google Scholar
  55. Schär C et al (1999) The soil-precipitation feedback: a process study with a regional climate model. J Clim 12(3):722–741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Schneider U et al (2014) GPCC’s new land surface precipitation climatology based on quality-controlled in situ data and its role in quantifying the global water cycle. Theor Appl Climatol 115(1–2):15–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Seneviratne SI et al (2006) Land–atmosphere coupling and climate change in Europe. Nature 443(7108):205–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Seneviratne SI et al (2010) Investigating soil moisture–climate interactions in a changing climate: a review. Earth Sci Rev 99(3):125–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Shrivastava, S., Sarat C. K., and Sharma, A.R, 2016. Soil moisture variations in remotely sensed and reanalysis datasets during weak monsoon conditions over central India and central Myanmar. Theor Appl Climatol. 1–16.Google Scholar
  60. Shukla J, Mintz Y (1982) Influence of land-surface evapotranspiration on the earth’s climate. Science 215(4539):1498–1501Google Scholar
  61. Shukla J, Paolino DA (1983) The southern oscillation and long-range forecasting of the summer monsoon rainfall over India. Mon Weather Rev 111(9):1830–1837CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Taylor CM et al (2012) Afternoon rain more likely over drier soils. Nature 489(7416):423–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Torrence C, Webster PJ (1999) Interdecadal changes in the ENSO-monsoon system. J Clim 12(8):2679–2690CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Von Storch H (1999) Spatial patterns: EOFs and CCA. Analysis of climate variability. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 231–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wagner W et al (2012) Fusion of active and passive microwave observations to create an essential climate variable data record on soil moisture. ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences (ISPRS Annals) 7:315–321Google Scholar
  66. Walker GT (1923) Correlation in seasonal variations of weather, VIII, a preliminary study of world weather. Mem India Meteorol Dept. 24:75–131Google Scholar
  67. Walker GT (1924) Correlation in seasonal variations of weather-IX, a further study of world weather. Mem India Meteorol Dept 24:275–332Google Scholar
  68. Walker J, Rowntree PR (1977) The effect of soil moisture on circulation and rainfall in a tropical model. Q J Roy Meteor Soc. 103(435):29–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wang S et al (2016) Validation and trend analysis of ECV soil moisture data on cropland in North China plain during 1981–2010. Int J Appl Earth Obse Geoinf 48:110–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Webster PJ, Yang S (1992) Monsoon and ENSO: selectively interactive systems. Q J Roy Meteor Soc 118(507):877–926CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Wilks, D. S., 1995: Statistical methods in the atmospheric sciences. International Geophysics Series, Vol. 59, Academic Press, 467 pp.Google Scholar
  72. Yang S (1996) ENSO–snow–monsoon associations and seasonal–interannual predictions. Int J Climatol 16(2):125–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Yang S, Lau KM (1998) Influences of sea surface temperature and ground wetness onAsian summer monsoon. J Clim 11(12):3230–3246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Yasunari T (2006) Land-atmosphere interaction. In: Wang B (ed) The Asian monsoon. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 459–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Zeng J et al (2015) Evaluation of remotely sensed and reanalysis soil moisture products over the Tibetan Plateau using in-situ observations. Remote Sens Environ 163:91–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Zhang R, Zuo Z (2011) Impact of spring soil moisture on surface energy balance and summer monsoon circulation over East Asia and precipitation in East China. J Clim 24(13):3309–3322CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIR Fourth Paradigm Institute (CSIR 4PI)Formerly CSIR Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation (C-MMACS)BangaloreIndia

Personalised recommendations