Observed increase in the peak rain rates of monsoon depressions


Most extreme precipitation in the densely populated region of central India is produced by atmospheric vortices called monsoon lows and monsoon depressions. Here we use satellite and gauge-based precipitation estimates with atmospheric reanalyses to assess 40-year trends in the rain rates of these storms, which have remained unknown. We show that rain rates increased in the rainiest quadrant of monsoon depressions, southwest of the vortex center; precipitation decreased in eastern quadrants, yielding no clear trend in precipitation averaged over the entire storm diameter. In an atmospheric reanalysis, ascent increased in the region of amplifying precipitation, but we could not detect trends in the intensity of rotational winds around the storm center. These storm changes occurred in a background environment where humidity increased rapidly over land while warming was more muted. Monsoon lows, which we show produce less precipitation than depressions, exhibit weaker trends that are less statistically robust.

npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, 6, 111, doi: 10.1038/s41612-023-00436-w