Synoptic Preconditions for Extreme Flooding during the Summer Asian Monsoon in the Mumbai Area

Marco Lomazzi DHI Italia, Genoa, Italy

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Dara Entekhabi Parsons Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Joaquim G. Pinto Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom, and Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany

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Giorgio Roth Department of Civil, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy

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Roberto Rudari CIMA Research Foundation, Savona, Italy

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Abstract

The summer monsoon season is an important hydrometeorological feature of the Indian subcontinent and it has significant socioeconomic impacts. This study is aimed at understanding the processes associated with the occurrence of catastrophic flood events. The study has two novel features that add to the existing body of knowledge about the South Asian monsoon: 1) it combines traditional hydrometeorological observations (rain gauge measurements) with unconventional data (media and state historical records of reported flooding) to produce value-added century-long time series of potential flood events and 2) it identifies the larger regional synoptic conditions leading to days with flood potential in the time series. The promise of mining unconventional data to extend hydrometeorological records is demonstrated in this study. The synoptic evolution of flooding events in the western-central coast of India and the densely populated Mumbai area are shown to correspond to active monsoon periods with embedded low pressure centers and have far-upstream influences from the western edge of the Indian Ocean basin. The coastal processes along the Arabian Peninsula where the currents interact with the continental shelf are found to be key features of extremes during the South Asian monsoon.

Corresponding author address: Giorgio Roth, University of Genoa, Via Montallegro 1, Genoa 16145, Italy. E-mail: giorgio.roth@unige.it

Abstract

The summer monsoon season is an important hydrometeorological feature of the Indian subcontinent and it has significant socioeconomic impacts. This study is aimed at understanding the processes associated with the occurrence of catastrophic flood events. The study has two novel features that add to the existing body of knowledge about the South Asian monsoon: 1) it combines traditional hydrometeorological observations (rain gauge measurements) with unconventional data (media and state historical records of reported flooding) to produce value-added century-long time series of potential flood events and 2) it identifies the larger regional synoptic conditions leading to days with flood potential in the time series. The promise of mining unconventional data to extend hydrometeorological records is demonstrated in this study. The synoptic evolution of flooding events in the western-central coast of India and the densely populated Mumbai area are shown to correspond to active monsoon periods with embedded low pressure centers and have far-upstream influences from the western edge of the Indian Ocean basin. The coastal processes along the Arabian Peninsula where the currents interact with the continental shelf are found to be key features of extremes during the South Asian monsoon.

Corresponding author address: Giorgio Roth, University of Genoa, Via Montallegro 1, Genoa 16145, Italy. E-mail: giorgio.roth@unige.it
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