Indexed on: 26 Jun '18Published on: 26 Jun '18Published in: Geophysical Research Letters
Anthropogenic aerosols are a major factor contributing to human-induced climate change, particularly over the densely populated Asian monsoon region. Understanding the physical processes controlling the aerosol-induced changes in monsoon rainfall is essential for reducing the uncertainties in the future projections of the hydrological cycle. Here we use multiple coupled and atmospheric general circulation models to explore the physical mechanisms for the aerosol-driven monsoon changes on different time scales. We show that anthropogenic aerosols induce an overall reduction in monsoon rainfall and circulation, which can be largely explained by the fast adjustments over land north of 20N. This fast response occurs before changes in sea surface temperature (SST), largely driven by aerosol-cloud interactions. However, aerosol-induced SST feedbacks (slow response) cause substantial changes in the monsoon meridional circulation over the oceanic regions. Both the land-ocean asymmetry and meridional temperature gradient are key factors in determining the overall monsoon circulation response.