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The recent decline and recovery of Indian summer monsoon rainfall: relative roles of external forcing and internal variability

Huang, X., Zhou, T., Turner, A., Dai, A., Chen, X., Clark, R., Jiang, J., Man, W., Murphy, J., Rostron, J., Wu, B., Zhang, L., Zhang, W. and Zou, L. (2020) The recent decline and recovery of Indian summer monsoon rainfall: relative roles of external forcing and internal variability. Journal of Climate, 33 (12). pp. 5035-5060. ISSN 1520-0442

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0833.1

Abstract/Summary

The Indian summer monsoon (ISM) rainfall affects a large population in South Asia. Observations show a decline in ISM rainfall from 1950-1999 and a recovery from 1999-2013. While the decline has been attributed to global warming, aerosol effects, deforestation, and a negative-to-positive phase transition of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), the cause for the recovery remains largely unclear. Through analyses of a 57-member perturbed-parameter ensemble of model simulations, this study shows that the externally-forced rainfall trend is relatively weak and is overwhelmed by large internal variability during both 1950-1999 and 1999-2013. The IPO is identified as the internal mode that helps modulate the recent decline and recovery of the ISM rainfall. The IPO induces ISM rainfall changes through moisture convergence anomalies associated with an anomalous Walker circulation and meridional tropospheric temperature gradients and the resultant anomalous convection and zonal moisture advection. The negative-to-positive IPO phase transition from 1950-1999 reduces what would have been an externally-forced weak upward rainfall trend of 0.01 mm day-1 decade-1 to −0.15 mm day-1 decade-1 during that period, while the rainfall trend from 1999-2013 increases from the forced value of 0.42 to 0.68 mm day-1 decade-1 associated with a positive-to-negative IPO phase transition. Such a significant modulation of the historical ISM rainfall trends by the IPO is confirmed by another 100-member ensemble of simulations using perturbed initial conditions. Our findings highlight that the interplay between the effects of external forcing and the IPO needs be considered for climate adaptation and mitigation strategies in South Asia.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:89465
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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