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Storm types in India: linking rainfall duration, spatial extent and intensity

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Renaud Barbero, Professor Hayley Fowler


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We examine wet events (WEs) defined from an hourly rainfall dataset based on 64 gauged observations across India (1969-2016). More than 90% of the WEs (accounting for nearly 60% of total rainfall) are found to last less than or equal to 5 h. WEs are then clustered into six canonical local-scale storm profiles (CanWE). The most frequent canonical type (CanWE#1 and #2) are associated with very short and nominal rainfall. The remaining canonical WEs can be grouped into two broad families: (i) CanWE#3 and #5 with short (usually less than or equal to 3-4 h), but very intense rainfall strongly phase-locked onto the diurnal cycle (initiation peaks in mid-afternoon) and probably related to isolated thunderstorms or small mesoscale convective clusters (MCS), and (ii) CanWE#4 and #6 with longer and lighter rainfall in mean (but not necessarily for their maximum) and more independent of the diurnal cycle, thus probably related to larger MCSs or tropical lows. The spatial extent of the total rainfall received during each CanWE, as shown by IMERG gridded rainfall, is indeed smaller for CanWE#3 and #5 than for CanWE#4 and especially #6. Most of the annual maximum 1 hour rainfalls occur during CanWE#5. Long-term trend analysis of the June-September canonical WEs across boreal monsoonal India reveals an increase in the relative frequency of the convective storm types CanWE#3 and #5 in recent years, as expected from global warming and thermodynamic considerations. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'Intensification of short-duration rainfall extremes and implications for flash flood risks'.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Moron V, Barbero R, Fowler HJ, Mishra V

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences

Year: 2021

Volume: 379

Issue: 2195

Print publication date: 19/04/2021

Online publication date: 01/03/2021

Acceptance date: 30/06/2020

ISSN (print): 1364-503X

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2962

Publisher: Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2020.0137

PubMed id: 33641468


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