Understanding land surface response to changing South Asian monsoon in a warming climate
- Centre for Climate Change Research, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, India
Abstract. Recent studies have drawn attention to a significant weakening trend of the South Asian monsoon circulation and an associated decrease in regional rainfall during the last few decades. While surface temperatures over the region have steadily risen during this period, most of the CMIP (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project) global climate models have difficulties in capturing the observed decrease of monsoon precipitation, thus limiting our understanding of the regional land surface response to monsoonal changes. This problem is investigated by performing two long-term simulation experiments, with and without anthropogenic forcing, using a variable resolution global climate model having high-resolution zooming over the South Asian region. The present results indicate that anthropogenic effects have considerably influenced the recent weakening of the monsoon circulation and decline of precipitation. It is seen that the simulated increase of surface temperature over the Indian region during the post-1950s is accompanied by a significant decrease of monsoon precipitation and soil moisture. Our analysis further reveals that the land surface response to decrease of soil moisture is associated with significant reduction in evapotranspiration over the Indian land region. A future projection, based on the representative concentration pathway 4.5 (RCP4.5) scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), using the same high-resolution model indicates the possibility for detecting the summer-time soil drying signal over the Indian region during the 21st century in response to climate change. Given that these monsoon hydrological changes have profound socio-economic implications the present findings provide deeper insights and enhance our understanding of the regional land surface response to the changing South Asian monsoon. While this study is based on a single model realization, it is highly desirable to have multiple realizations to establish the robustness of the results.