SURFACE AND AEROSOL EFFECTS ON THE SOUTH ASIAN MONSOON HYDROCLIMATE
Bollasina, Massimo A.
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This work targets important couplings in the South Asian monsoon system at interannual or longer time-scales and associated processes and mechanisms: aerosol-hydroclimate, atmosphere-ocean, and land-atmosphere. Anomalous springtime absorbing aerosols loading over the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) leads to large-scale variations of the monsoon: cloudiness reduction associated with increased aerosols is suggested to play an important role in triggering surface heating over India, which strengthens the monsoon. Indeed, a closer analysis with high resolution data depicts a complex interplay between aerosols, dynamics and precipitation. Interestingly, observations do not provide any evidence for the Elevated Heat Pump hypothesis, a mechanism proposed for the aerosol-monsoon link. Current coupled climate models, which have been extensively used to study aerosol-monsoon interactions, are shown to have large, systematic, and coherent biases in precipitation, evaporation, sea-surface temperature (SST) over the Indian Ocean during the monsoon. Models are also found to deficiently portray local and non-local air-sea interactions. For example, they tend to emphasize local oceanic forcing on precipitation or to poorly simulate the relationship between SST and evaporation. The Indian monsoon rainfall-SST link is also spuriously misrepresented, suggesting caution when interpreting model-based findings. Both regional and remote forcings modulate the annual cycle of the heat-low over the desert areas (including the Thar Desert) between Pakistan and northwestern India, source of most of the dust loading over India. Land-surface heating has a limited role in the development of the low. Regional orography and monsoon summertime deep-convection over the Bay of Bengal, with its upstream descent to the west and related northerlies, contribute to the strengthening of the low, indicating a monsoon modulation on desert processes, including dust emission. The Thar Desert is expanding westward and the potential impact of land-cover change (without consideration of the additional aerosol loading) on summer monsoon hydroclimate and circulation is found to be significant. Locally, the atmospheric water cycle weakens, air temperature cools and subsidence prevails. An anomalous northwesterly flow over the IGP weakens the monsoon circulation over eastern India, causing precipitation to decrease. Orographic enhanced precipitation occurs over the Eastern Himalayas and southern China.