Subseasonal extremes of precipitation and active-break cycles of the Indian summer monsoon in a climate-change scenario



Changes to the behaviour of subseasonal precipitation extremes and active-break cycles of the Indian summer monsoon are assessed in this study using pre-industrial and 2 × CO2 integrations of the Hadley Centre coupled model HadCM3, which is able to simulate the monsoon seasonal cycle reasonably. At 2 × CO2, mean summer rainfall increases slightly, especially over central and northern India. The mean intensity of daily precipitation during the monsoon is found to increase, consistent with fewer wet days, and there are increases to heavy rain events beyond changes in the mean alone. The chance of reaching particular thresholds of heavy rainfall is found to approximately double over northern India, increasing the likelihood of damaging floods on a seasonal basis. The local distribution of such projections is uncertain, however, given the large spread in mean monsoon rainfall change and associated extremes amongst even the most recent coupled climate models. The measured increase of the heaviest precipitation events over India is found to be broadly in line with the degree of atmospheric warming and associated increases in specific humidity, lending a degree of predictability to changes in rainfall extremes. Active-break cycles of the Indian summer monsoon, important particularly due to their effect on agricultural output, are shown to be reasonably represented in HadCM3, in particular with some degree of northward propagation. We note an intensification of both active and break events, particularly when measured against the annual cycle, although there is no suggestion of any change to the duration or likelihood of monsoon breaks. Copyright © 2009 Royal Meteorological Society