Contribution of Monthly and Regional Rainfall to the Strength of Indian Summer Monsoon

Yangxing Zheng Center for Ocean–Atmospheric Prediction Studies, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

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M. M. Ali Center for Ocean–Atmospheric Prediction Studies, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

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Mark A. Bourassa Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science, and Center for Ocean–Atmospheric Prediction Studies, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

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Abstract

Indian summer monsoon rainfall (ISMR; June–September) has both temporal and spatial variability causing floods and droughts in different seasons and locations, leading to a strong or weak monsoon. Here, the authors present the contribution of all-India monthly, seasonal, and regional rainfall to the ISMR, with an emphasis on the strong and weak monsoons. Here, regional rainfall is restricted to the seasonal rainfall over four regions defined by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) primarily for the purpose of forecasting regional rainfall: northwest India (NWI), northeast India (NEI), central India (CI), and south peninsula India (SPIN). In this study, two rainfall datasets provided by IMD are used: 1) all-India monthly and seasonal (June–September) rainfall series for the entire Indian subcontinent as well as seasonal rainfall series for the four homogeneous regions for the period 1901–2013 and 2) the latest daily gridded rainfall data for the period 1951–2014, which is used for assessment at the extent to which the four regions are appropriate for the intended purpose. Rainfall during July–August contributes the most to the total seasonal rainfall, regardless of whether it is a strong or weak monsoon. Although NEI has the maximum area-weighted rainfall, its contribution is the least toward determining a strong or weak monsoon. It is the rainfall in the remaining three regions (NWI, CI, and SPIN) that controls whether an ISMR is strong or weak. Compared to monthly rainfall, regional rainfall dominates the strong or weak rainfall periods.

Corresponding author address: Yangxing Zheng, Center for Ocean–Atmospheric Prediction Studies, Florida State University, 2000 Levy Ave., Rm. 259, Building A, Tallahassee, FL 32306. E-mail: yzheng@fsu.edu

Abstract

Indian summer monsoon rainfall (ISMR; June–September) has both temporal and spatial variability causing floods and droughts in different seasons and locations, leading to a strong or weak monsoon. Here, the authors present the contribution of all-India monthly, seasonal, and regional rainfall to the ISMR, with an emphasis on the strong and weak monsoons. Here, regional rainfall is restricted to the seasonal rainfall over four regions defined by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) primarily for the purpose of forecasting regional rainfall: northwest India (NWI), northeast India (NEI), central India (CI), and south peninsula India (SPIN). In this study, two rainfall datasets provided by IMD are used: 1) all-India monthly and seasonal (June–September) rainfall series for the entire Indian subcontinent as well as seasonal rainfall series for the four homogeneous regions for the period 1901–2013 and 2) the latest daily gridded rainfall data for the period 1951–2014, which is used for assessment at the extent to which the four regions are appropriate for the intended purpose. Rainfall during July–August contributes the most to the total seasonal rainfall, regardless of whether it is a strong or weak monsoon. Although NEI has the maximum area-weighted rainfall, its contribution is the least toward determining a strong or weak monsoon. It is the rainfall in the remaining three regions (NWI, CI, and SPIN) that controls whether an ISMR is strong or weak. Compared to monthly rainfall, regional rainfall dominates the strong or weak rainfall periods.

Corresponding author address: Yangxing Zheng, Center for Ocean–Atmospheric Prediction Studies, Florida State University, 2000 Levy Ave., Rm. 259, Building A, Tallahassee, FL 32306. E-mail: yzheng@fsu.edu
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