How important is tropospheric humidity for coastal rainfall in the tropics?

Martin Bergemann, Christian Jakob

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Climate models show considerable rainfall biases in coastal tropical areas, where approximately 33% of the overall rainfall received is associated with coastal land-sea interaction. Building on an algorithm to objectively identify rainfall that is associated with land-sea interaction we investigate whether the relationship between rainfall in coastal regions and atmospheric humidity differs from that over the open ocean or over inland areas. We combine 3-hourly satellite estimates of rainfall with humidity estimates from reanalyses and investigate if coastal rainfall reveals the well-known relationship between area-averaged precipitation and column-integrated moisture. We find that rainfall that is associated with coastal land-sea effects occurs under much drier midtropospheric conditions than that over the ocean and does not exhibit a pronounced critical value of humidity. In addition, the dependence of the amount of rainfall on midtropospheric moisture is significantly weaker when the rainfall is coastally influenced.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5860-5868
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2016


  • humidity
  • tropical convection
  • tropical rainfall

Cite this