Thomas L., Malap N., Grabowski W.W., Prabha T.V.
Thermodynamic soundings for pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons from the Indian subcontinent are analysed to document differences between convective environments. The pre-monsoon environment features more variability for both near-surface moisture and free-tropospheric temperature and moisture profiles. As a result, the level of neutral buoyancy (LNB) and pseudo-adiabatic convective available potential energy (CAPE) vary more for the pre-monsoon environment. Pre-monsoon soundings also feature higher lifting condensation levels (LCLs). LCL heights are shown to depend on the availability of surface moisture, with low LCLs corresponding to high surface humidity, arguably because of the availability of soil moisture. A simple theoretical argument is developed and showed to mimic the observed relationship between LCLs and surface moisture.We argue that the key element is the partitioning of surface energy flux into its sensible and latent components, that is, the surface Bowen ratio, and the way the Bowen ratio affects surface buoyancy flux. We support our argument with observations of changes in the Bowen ratio and LCL height around the monsoon onset, and with idealized simulations of cloud fields driven by surface heat fluxes with different Bowen ratios.
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2018, vol. 18, pp. 7473–7488, doi: 10.5194/acp-18-7473-2018