Major moisture sources for Western and Southern India and their role on synoptic-scale rainfall events


Paulina Ordóñez, Department of Physical, Chemical and Natural Systems, Pablo de Olavide University, Ctra. de Utrera, km. 1 41013, Seville. Spain.



Although the identification of the moisture sources of a region is of prominent importance to characterize precipitation, the origin and amount of moisture towards the Indian Subcontinent and its relationship with the occurrence of precipitation are still not completely understood.

In this article, the origin of the atmospheric water arriving to the Western and Southern India during a period of 5 years (1 January 2000–31 December 2004) is investigated by using a Lagrangian diagnosis method. This methodology computes budgets of evaporation minus precipitation by calculating changes in the specific humidity of thousands of air particles aimed to the study area following the observed winds. During the summer monsoon, the main supply of moisture is the Somali Jet, which crosses the equator by the West Indian Ocean. The recycling process is the main water vapour source in winter. Two additional moisture sources located over northwestern India and the Bay of Bengal are identified.

A 30% increase in the moisture flux from the Indian Ocean has been related to the occurrence of strong precipitation in the area, and at the end of the monsoon, the recycling became a significant contribution to the last part of the wet season of Western and Southern India. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.