Response of the Indian summer monsoon circulation and rainfall to seasonal snow depth anomaly over Eurasia
Several observational and modeling studies indicate that the Indian summer monsoon rainfall (ISMR) is inversely related to the Eurasian snow extent and depth. The other two important surface boundary conditions which influence the ISMR are the Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) to a large extent and the Indian Ocean SST to some extent. In the present study, observed Soviet snow depth data and Indian rainfall data for the period 1951–1994 have been statistically analyzed and results show that 57% of heavy snow events and 24% of light snow events over west Eurasia are followed by deficient and excess ISMR respectively. Out of all the extreme monsoon years, care has been taken to identify those when Eurasian snow was the most dominant surface forcing to influence ISMR. During the years of high(low) Eurasian snow amounts in spring/winter followed by deficient(excess) ISMR, atmospheric fields such as temperature, wind, geopotential height, velocity potential and stream function based on NCEP/NCAR reanalyses have been examined in detail to study the influence of Eurasian snow on the midlatitude circulation regime and hence on the monsoon circulation. Results show that because of the west Eurasian snow anomalies, the midlatitude circulations in winter through spring show significant changes in the upper and lower level wind, geopotential height, velocity potential and stream function fields. Such changes in the large-scale circulation pattern may be interpreted as precursors to weak/strong monsoon circulation and deficient/excess ISMR. The upper level velocity potential difference fields between the high and low snow years indicate that with the advent of spring, the winter anomalous convergence over the Indian region gradually becomes weaker and gives way to anomalous divergence that persists through the summer monsoon season. Also the upper level anomalous divergence centre shifts from over the Northern Hemisphere and equator to the Southern Hemisphere over the Indian Ocean and Australia.