Urbanization signature in the observed heavy rainfall climatology over India

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Abstract

We assess the urbanization impacts on the heavy rainfall climatology during the Indian summer monsoon. While a number of studies have identified the impact of urbanization on local precipitation, a large-scale assessment has been lacking. This relation between urbanization and Indian monsoon rainfall changes is investigated by analyzing in situ and satellite-based precipitation and population datasets. Using a long-term daily rainfall dataset and high-resolution gridded analysis of human population, this study showed a significantly increasing trend in the frequency of heavy rainfall climatology over urban regions of India during the monsoon season. Urban regions experience less occurrences of light rainfall and significantly higher occurrences of intense precipitation compared to nonurban regions. Very heavy and extreme rainfall events showed increased trends over both urban and rural areas, but the trends over urban areas were larger and statistically more significant. Our analysis suggests that there is adequate statistical basis to conclude that the observed increasing trend in the frequency of heavy rainfall events over Indian monsoon region is more likely to be over regions where the pace of urbanization is faster. Moreover, rainfall measurements from satellites also indicate that urban areas are more (less) likely to experience heavier (lighter) precipitation rates compared to those in nonurban areas. While the mechanisms causing this enhancement in rainfall remain to be studied, the results provide the evidence that the increase in the heavy rainfall climatology over the Indian monsoon region is a signature of urban-induced rainfall anomaly. Copyright © 2009 Royal Meteorological Society

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