• Open Access

Monsoons in a changing world: A regional perspective in a global context


Corresponding author: A. Kitoh, Climate Research Department, Meteorological Research Institute, 1-1 Nagamine, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0052, Japan. (kitoh@mri-jma.go.jp)


[1] We provide a new view of global and regional monsoonal rainfall, and their changes in the 21st century under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios as projected by 29 climate models that participated in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5. The model results show that the global monsoon area defined by the annual range in precipitation is projected to expand mainly over the central to eastern tropical Pacific, the southern Indian Ocean, and eastern Asia. The global monsoon precipitation intensity and the global monsoon total precipitation are also projected to increase. Indices of heavy precipitation are projected to increase much more than those for mean precipitation. Over the Asian monsoon domain, projected changes in extreme precipitation indices are larger than over other monsoon domains, indicating the strong sensitivity of Asian monsoon to global warming. Over the American and African monsoon regions, projected future changes in mean precipitation are rather modest, but those in precipitation extremes are large. Models project that monsoon retreat dates will delay, while onset dates will either advance or show no change, resulting in lengthening of the monsoon season. However, models’ limited ability to reproduce the present monsoon climate and the large scatter among the model projections limit the confidence in the results. The projected increase of the global monsoon precipitation can be attributed to an increase of moisture convergence due to increased surface evaporation and water vapor in the air column although offset to a certain extent by the weakening of the monsoon circulation.