Climate Dynamics

, Volume 36, Issue 11, pp 2159-2170

First online:

The once and future pulse of Indian monsoonal climate

  • K. Krishna KumarAffiliated withIndian Institute of Tropical Meteorology Email author 
  • , K. KamalaAffiliated withLOCEAN-IPSL, Universiti Pierre et Marie Curie
  • , Balaji RajagopalanAffiliated withUniversity of Colorado
  • , Martin P. HoerlingAffiliated withNOAA/ESRL/PSD
  • , Jon K. EischeidAffiliated withNOAA/ESRL/PSD
  • , S. K. PatwardhanAffiliated withIndian Institute of Tropical Meteorology
  • , G. SrinivasanAffiliated withRIMES
  • , B. N. GoswamiAffiliated withIndian Institute of Tropical Meteorology
  • , Ramakrishna NemaniAffiliated withNASA-Ames Research Center

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We present a comprehensive assessment of the present and expected future pulse of the Indian monsoon climate based on observational and global climate model projections. The analysis supports the view that seasonal Indian monsoon rains in the latter half of the 21th century may not be materially different in abundance to that experienced today although their intensity and duration of wet and dry spells may change appreciably. Such an assessment comes with considerable uncertainty. With regard to temperature, however, we find that the Indian temperatures during the late 21st Century will very likely exceed the highest values experienced in the 130-year instrumental record of Indian data. This assessment comes with higher confidence than for rainfall because of the large spatial scale driving the thermal response of climate to greenhouse gas forcing. We also find that monsoon climate changes, especially temperature, could heighten human and crop mortality posing a socio-economic threat to the Indian subcontinent.