• Indian monsoon rainfall;
  • global warming;
  • climate variability;
  • extreme rainfall indices;
  • trend analysis


This study examines the changes in monsoon rainfall of India using a suite of extreme indices defined by the Expert Team on Climate Change Detection Monitoring and Indices (ETCCDMI) to make the Indian results comparable internationally, in addition to the use of some relevant indices particularly developed for the Indian climate. To this end, the recently developed high resolution daily gridded (0.5° × 0.5°) rainfall dataset for the period 1971–2005 has been analysed using robust nonparametric techniques. Despite the high interannual variability and spatial diversity of the Indian climatology, the results reveal signal of changes for several extreme rainfall indices, generally consistent with the simulated outcome of an intensified Indian monsoon rainfall in the context of global warming. A predominant decrease in wet days, moderate and total rainfall is observed in the high rainfall regions of northeast, central and southwest India. In the active monsoon months of July and August, the dry spells defined by the maximum length of consecutive dry days (CDD) have increased significantly over the north and central regions of India, suggesting a serious threat to the Indian agriculture. Simultaneously, the extreme rainfall indices, based on the percentile and absolute values, show increasing trends over large parts of the country. The probability density function (PDF) of several indices show noticeable changes since the 1990s over the homogeneous central and northeast parts of India. The indices representing the total monsoon rainfall and dry spells are better correlated with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (NINO3.4), compared to that of the Indian Ocean Dipole Mode Index (IODMI). The mapping of the observed rainfall trends and their correspondence to the large scale circulation modes is expected to assist the policy makers to prioritize the mitigation and adaptation strategies.