Climate Dynamics

, Volume 50, Issue 7–8, pp 2867–2879 | Cite as

The Chennai extreme rainfall event in 2015: The Bay of Bengal connection

  • Alugula Boyaj
  • Karumuri Ashok
  • Subimal Ghosh
  • Anjana Devanand
  • Govardhan Dandu


Southeast India experienced a heavy rainfall during 30 Nov–2 Dec 2015. Particularly, the Chennai city, the fourth major metropolitan city in India with a population of 5 million, experienced extreme flooding and causalities. Using various observed/reanalysed datasets, we find that the concurrent southern Bay of Bengal (BoB) sea surface temperatures (SST) were anomalously warm. Our analysis shows that BoB sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTA) are indeed positively, and significantly, correlated with the northeastern Indian monsoonal rainfall during this season. Our sensitivity experiments carried out with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model at 25 km resolution suggest that, while the strong concurrent El Niño conditions contributed to about 21.5% of the intensity of the extreme Chennai rainfall through its signals in the local SST mentioned above, the warming trend in BoB SST also contributed equally to the extremity of the event. Further, the El Niño southern oscillation (ENSO) impacts on the intensity of the synoptic events in the BoB during the northeast monsoon are manifested largely through the local SST in the BoB as compared through its signature in the atmospheric circulations over the BoB.


The Chennai extreme rainfall event WRF model Northeast monsoon Bay of Bengal warming trend 



The authors acknowledge useful suggestions from the two anonymous reviewers on the earlier version of the manuscript. BA and GD acknowledge discussions with Dr. Ch. Nagaraju, UCLA, on the WRF model experiments. The WRF experiments have been carried using the MoES/IITM HPC facility, for which we are grateful to the MoES/IITM. The sources/publications for the various data used are listed in the references and supplements. The figures in this work have been generated using the COLA/GRADS software.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alugula Boyaj
    • 1
  • Karumuri Ashok
    • 1
  • Subimal Ghosh
    • 2
  • Anjana Devanand
    • 2
  • Govardhan Dandu
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Earth and Space SciencesUniversity of HyderabadHyderabadIndia
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringIndian Institute of TechnologyMumbaiIndia

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