Indian summer monsoon rainfall predictability and variability associated with Northwest Pacific circulation in a suit of coupled model hindcasts

Research paper by Arti B. Bandgar, J. S. Chowdary, C. Gnanaseelan

Indexed on: 28 Nov '13Published on: 28 Nov '13Published in: Theoretical and Applied Climatology


The Northwest Pacific (NWP) circulation (subtropical high) is an important component of the East Asian summer monsoon system. During summer (June–August), anomalous lower tropospheric anticyclonic (cyclonic) circulation appears over NWP in some years, which is an indicative of stronger (weaker) than normal subtropical high. The anomalous NWP cyclonic (anticyclonic) circulation years are associated with negative (positive) precipitation anomalies over most of Indian summer monsoon rainfall (ISMR) region. This indicates concurrent relationship between NWP circulation and convection over the ISMR region. Dry wind advection from subtropical land regions and moisture divergence over the southern peninsular India during the NWP cyclonic circulation years are mainly responsible for the negative rainfall anomalies over the ISMR region. In contrast, during anticyclonic years, warm north Indian Ocean and moisture divergence over the head Bay of Bengal-Gangetic Plain region support moisture instability and convergence in the southern flank of ridge region, which favors positive rainfall over most of the ISMR region. The interaction between NWP circulation (anticyclonic or cyclonic) and ISMR and their predictability during these anomalous years are examined in the present study. Seven coupled ocean–atmosphere general circulation models from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Climate Center and their multimodel ensemble mean skills in predicting the seasonal rainfall and circulation anomalies over the ISMR region and NWP for the period 1982–2004 are assessed. Analysis reveals that three (two) out of seven models are unable to predict negative (positive) precipitation anomalies over the Indian subcontinent during the NWP cyclonic (anticyclonic) circulation years at 1-month lead (model is initialized on 1 May). The limited westward extension of the NWP circulation and misrepresentation of SST anomalies over the north Indian Ocean are found to be the main reasons for the poor skill (of some models) in rainfall prediction over the Indian subcontinent. This study demonstrates the importance of the NWP circulation variability in predicting summer monsoon precipitation over South Asia. Considering the predictability of the NWP circulation, the current study provides an insight into the predictability of ISMR. Long lead prediction of the ISMR associated with anomalous NWP circulation is also discussed.