Better understanding of Interregional Teleconnections for prediction in the Monsoon and Poles

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Meteorology

Abstract

BITMAP is an Indo-UK-German project to develop better understanding of processes linking the Arctic and Asian monsoon, leading to better prospects for prediction on short, seasonal and decadal scales in both regions. Recent work has suggested that the pole-to-equator temperature difference is an essential ingredient driving variations in the monsoon. BITMAP's initial focus will be on the impact of the temperature difference between pole and equator on the establishment and variation of regional circulations. We will use existing databases of multiple climate models to unpack the impact of different forcing agents (e.g. greenhouse gases and polluting aerosols) on the relative warming of the northern and southern hemispheres and pole-to-equator temperature gradients. Next we will relate the gradient to position of the strongest rainfall and strength and position of monsoon circulation. We will also examine the impact of different pole-to-equator temperatures on hydroclimates of the vulnerable Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region in High Asia. Next we will test the impact on Arctic circulation patterns of "diabatic" heating arising from the monsoon rainfall (via waves in the atmosphere) by conducting novel experiments with climate models. This will also help us evaluate and improve these models by determining the problems caused by typical monsoon errors (e.g. misplaced tropical rainfall) on simulation of polar climates; we will also explore how errors in model Arctic sea-ice distribution affect the monsoon. Finally we will analyze effects of variations in climate. We will measure and model the impact of typical strong and weak Asian monsoon summers on atmospheric waves that travel to the poles and thereby develop a better understanding of the pathways to Arctic circulation, with implications for predicting sea-ice extent. In the other direction, we will use observations and models to assess the role of the changing Arctic temperatures on the jetstream and on the regularity of heavy rainfall and flooding events that affect South Asia.

Planned Impact

The main user benefits of this work will be felt through the national meteorological services (chiefly NCMRWF, our funded partner) via increased understanding of the drivers of extreme rainfall events in northern India. Existing collaborators external to the project, such as the UK Met Office, will also feel such benefits since they provide the background modelling architecture used by NCMRWF and will thus be keen to hear of the model performance, particularly in the rarely studied phenomena of western disturbances.

Secondly, national and state government ministries in South Asia will benefit through better-informed decision-making on the effects of changing climate on the mean monsoon and extreme events, particularly in the north. These events are particularly relevant for flooding (e.g. Pakistan 2010 and Uttarakhand 2013 floods) and thus infrastructure management or design, disaster preparedness (including evacuation procedures) and climate resilience. India has made great strides over the last decade in their preparedness for coastal disasters due to tropical cyclones, so if the same benefits could be extended to westerly systems - improved forecasting, and relevant emergency planning for the region - many losses could be saved. Improvements will have been achieved by this project if the value of forecasts made and of the changing statistics of extreme events can be better communicated to society.

Thirdly, the improved projections to be made in this project of the impact of climate warming, and tropical monsoon variability, on sea-ice extent, and of the impact of tropical biases in forecast and climate models on the simulation of sea ice, may have benefits in shipping and mining industries in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and North Sea.

Finally, the general public in UK, India and Germany will benefit from being given an understanding of the impacts of climate warming on the monsoon and Arctic regions, including on the merits and limitations of forecasts and of the process of modern atmospheric science, potentially encouraging career choice and interest.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description BITMAP has created a comprehensive catalogue of "Western Disturbances" a type of cyclonic storm that brings heavy rainfall to northern India, Pakistan and the surrounding region in wintertime. The catalogue unveils the structure of the typical Western Disturbance in unprecedented detail and makes clear links between the prevalence and these storms, which offers hope for predicting them on a seasonal basis.
Exploitation Route Now that a relationship has been demonstrated between the occurrence of Western Disturbances and the position of the subtropical westerly jetstream, there is great potential to explore the predictability of these storms in seasonal forecasting models, for example at the Met Office.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

 
Title BITMAP: Tracks of western disturbances transiting over Pakistan and north India in ERA-Interim reanalysis data (1979-2015) 
Description This dataset contains tracks generated using a bespoke tracking algorithm developed within the BITMAP (Better understanding of Interregional Teleconnections for prediction in the Monsoon And Poles) project, identifying and linking upper-tropospheric vortices (described in Hunt et al, 2018, QJRMS - see linked documentation), using data derived from the ERA-Interim reanalysis data. Similar datasets were produced using various model output from the WCRP CMIP5 programme, available within the parent dataset collection. Western disturbances (WDs) are upper-level vortices that can significantly impact the weather over Pakistan and north India. This is a catalogue of the tracks of WDs passing through the region (specifically 20-36.5N, 60-80E). BITMAP was an Indo-UK-German project (NERC grant award NE/P006795/1) to develop better understanding of processes linking the Arctic and Asian monsoon, leading to better prospects for prediction on short, seasonal and decadal scales in both regions. Recent work had suggested that the pole-to-equator temperature difference is an essential ingredient driving variations in the monsoon. For further details on the project itself see the linked Project record. Citable as: Hunt, K.; Turner, A.G.; Shaffrey, L.C. (2019): BITMAP: Tracks of western disturbances transiting over Pakistan and north India in ERA-Interim reanalysis data (1979-2015). Centre for Environmental Data Analysis, 05 February 2019. doi:10.5285/233cf64c54e946e0bb691a07970ec245. http://dx.doi.org/10.5285/233cf64c54e946e0bb691a07970ec245 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This dataset has resulted in published papers: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1002/qj.3200 The evolution, seasonality, and impacts of western disturbances https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GL077734 Subtropical Westerly Jet Influence on Occurrence of Western Disturbances and Tibetan Plateau Vortices In addition, there is ongoing work associated with this dataset. 
URL https://catalogue.ceda.ac.uk/uuid/233cf64c54e946e0bb691a07970ec245
 
Description Oral presentation at EGU General Assembly, April 2018: "Vertical structure of Western Disturbances in the subtropical jetstream and mechanisms associated with extreme rainfall in South Asia" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Oral presentation given on Vertical structure of Western Disturbances in the subtropical jetstream and mechanisms associated with extreme rainfall in South Asia at the EGU General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, April 2018. Conference delegates in academic fields of atmospheric science, climate science and hydrology were able to discuss the work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2018/EGU2018-7561.pdf
 
Description Oral presentation at UK-wide Belmont Forum/JPI-Climate CRA meeting on interregional linkages, Reading, 1-2 May 2018: "A climatology of western disturbances: present and future" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A UK-wide meeting of the Belmont Forum/JPI-Climate Collaborative Research Action (CRA) on the 2015 call Interregional Linkages was held at University of Reading, Reading, UK with all participating projects in this funding stream. BITMAP PI A G Turner organised this meeting. PDRA Kieran Hunt presented work on, "A climatology of western disturbances: present and future" among academic researchers for discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Poster presentation at AGU Fall Meeting, 10-14 December 2018, Washington DC: "The Present and Future of Western Disturbances and Winter Precipitation over South Asia" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster presentation at AGU Fall Meeting, 10-14 December 2018, Washington DC: "The Present and Future of Western Disturbances and Winter Precipitation over South Asia". Project work presented at major international conference (>20,000 attendees).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm18/prelim.cgi/Paper/446687
 
Description Poster presentation at joint INCOMPASS-SWAAMI-BoBBLE project meeting of the NERC/MoES South Asian Monsoon programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster presentation at joint INCOMPASS-SWAAMI-BoBBLE project meeting of the NERC/MoES South Asian Monsoon programme, in Bangalore, India, 24-26 July 2018. BITMAP PDRA Kieran Hunt gave poster presentation on, "Understanding western disturbances and their fate in future climate projections". The Indian scientists present felt the work was of direct relevance to their understanding of Western Disturbances, a type of winter storm afflicting northern India.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Poster presentation at the SPARC General Assembly, Kyoto, Japan, 1-5 October 2018: "Understanding western disturbances and their fate in future climate projections" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster presentation at the SPARC General Assembly, Kyoto, Japan, 1-5 October 2018: "Understanding western disturbances and their fate in future climate projections". This presentation was made as part of the Belmont Forum/JPI-Climate CRA mid-term meeting, at the request of the funder. Attendance and presentation at this meeting brought the work to a new audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Project summary presentation at mid-term meeting of Belmont Forum/JPI-Climate Interregional linkages CRA, Kyoto, Japan, 3 October 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project summary presentation at mid-term meeting of Belmont Forum/JPI-Climate Interregional linkages CRA, Kyoto, Japan, 3 October 2018. Presntation made by BITMAP PI A G Turner entitled, "Better understanding of Interregional Teleconnections for prediction in the Monsoon And Poles (BITMAP)".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.jpi-climate.eu/news-events/news/10896664/The-mid-term-meeting-of-the-JPI-Climate-and-Belm...
 
Description UK meeting of the Belmont Forum/JPI-Climate 2015 CRA Interregional linkages, held at University of Reading, UK, 1-2 May 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact As PI of BITMAP, one of the participating projects of the Belmont Forum/JPI-Climate 2015 CRA Interregional linkages, Dr Andy Turner organised a UK-wide workshop of all the projects involved, held at University of Reading, UK, 1-2 May 2018. In this meeting each of the involved project's UK team gave a presentation on current research findings, future plans. Breakout discussion sessions were held on possibilities for inter-project collaboration and next steps.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018