Journal of Earth System Science

, Volume 119, Issue 3, pp 229–247 | Cite as

Active and break spells of the Indian summer monsoon

  • M. Rajeevan
  • Sulochana Gadgil
  • Jyoti Bhate


In this paper, we suggest criteria for the identification of active and break events of the Indian summer monsoon on the basis of recently derived high resolution daily gridded rainfall dataset over India (1951–2007). Active and break events are defined as periods during the peak monsoon months of July and August, in which the normalized anomaly of the rainfall over a critical area, called the monsoon core zone exceeds 1 or is less than −1.0 respectively, provided the criterion is satisfied for at least three consecutive days. We elucidate the major features of these events. We consider very briefly the relationship of the intraseasonal fluctuations between these events and the interannual variation of the summer monsoon rainfall.

We find that breaks tend to have a longer life-span than active spells. While, almost 80% of the active spells lasted 3–4 days, only 40% of the break spells were of such short duration. A small fraction (9%) of active spells and 32% of break spells lasted for a week or longer. While active events occurred almost every year, not a single break occurred in 26% of the years considered. On an average, there are 7 days of active and break events from July through August. There are no significant trends in either the days of active or break events. We have shown that there is a major difference between weak spells and long intense breaks. While weak spells are characterized by weak moist convective regimes, long intense break events have a heat trough type circulation which is similar to the circulation over the Indian subcontinent before the onset of the monsoon.

The space-time evolution of the rainfall composite patterns suggests that the revival from breaks occurs primarily from northward propagations of the convective cloud zone. There are important differences between the spatial patterns of the active/break spells and those characteristic of interannual variation, particularly those associated with the link to ENSO. Hence, the interannual variation of the Indian monsoon cannot be considered as primarily arising from the interannual variation of intraseasonal variation. However, the signature over the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean on intraseasonal time scales is similar to that on the interannual time scales.


Indian monsoon monsoon breaks intraseasonal variability monsoon circulation 


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Atmospheric Research LaboratoryGadankiIndia
  2. 2.Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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