Climate Dynamics

, Volume 46, Issue 11–12, pp 3517–3546 | Cite as

Monsoon-extratropical circulation interactions in Himalayan extreme rainfall

  • Ramesh K. VelloreEmail author
  • Michael L. Kaplan
  • R. Krishnan
  • John M. Lewis
  • Sudhir Sabade
  • Nayana Deshpande
  • Bhupendra B. Singh
  • R. K. Madhura
  • M. V. S. Rama Rao


Extreme precipitation and flood episodes in the Himalayas are oftentimes traced to synoptic situations involving connections between equatorward advancing upper level extratropical circulations and moisture-laden tropical monsoon circulation. While previous studies have documented precipitation characteristics in the Himalayan region during severe storm cases, a comprehensive understanding of circulation dynamics of extreme precipitation mechanisms is still warranted. In this study, a detailed analysis is performed using rainfall observations and reanalysis circulation products to understand the evolution of monsoon-extratropical circulation features and their interactions based on 34 extreme precipitation events which occurred in the Western Himalayas (WEH) during the period 1979–2013. Our results provide evidence for a common large-scale circulation pattern connecting the extratropics and the South Asian monsoon region, which is favorable for extreme precipitation occurrences in the WEH region. This background upper level large-scale circulation pattern consists of a deep southward penetrating midlatitude westerly trough, a blocking high over western Eurasia and an intensifying Tibetan anticyclone. It is further seen from our analysis that the key elements of monsoon-midlatitude interactions, responsible for extreme precipitation events over the WEH region, are: (1) midlatitude Rossby wave breaking, (2) west-northwest propagation of monsoon low-pressure system from the Bay of Bengal across the Indian subcontinent, (3) eddy shedding of the Tibetan anticyclone, (4) ageostrophic motions and transverse circulation across the Himalayas, and (5) strong moist convection over the Himalayan foothills. Furthermore, high-resolution numerical simulations indicate that diabatic heating and mesoscale ageostrophic effects can additionally amplify the convective motions and precipitation in the WEH region.


Extreme precipitation events Indian summer monsoon Midlatitude interactions Ageostrophic transverse circulations 

List of Abbreviations


Central-Eastern Himalayas


Empirical orthogonal function/principal component


Indo-Gangetic plains


India meteorological department


Indian summer monsoon


Monsoon trough


Potential vorticity/isentropic potential vorticity


Potential vorticity unit


Rossby wave breaking


Subtropical jet stream


Tibetan anticyclone


Western Himalayas


Weather Research and Forecasting



The authors gratefully acknowledge Dr. M. Rajeevan, Director, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, India, for the support. The authors also acknowledge the India Meteorological Department for providing the high-resolution daily precipitation datasets, and the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting for ERA-Interim reanalysis products. The numerical simulations were performed at the high performance computing facility at IITM. The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ramesh K. Vellore
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael L. Kaplan
    • 2
  • R. Krishnan
    • 1
  • John M. Lewis
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sudhir Sabade
    • 1
  • Nayana Deshpande
    • 1
  • Bhupendra B. Singh
    • 1
  • R. K. Madhura
    • 1
  • M. V. S. Rama Rao
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Climate Change ResearchIndian Institute of Tropical MeteorologyPuneIndia
  2. 2.Desert Research InstituteRenoUSA
  3. 3.National Severe Storms LaboratoryNormanUSA

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