India’s extreme rainfall ‘corridor’

India’s extreme rainfall ‘corridor’


The Indian monsoon, a dynamic force shaping the nation’s climate, is undergoing changes due to global warming. While traditional forecasting methods grapple with the complexities of extreme rainfall events, a recent study highlights a surprising stability in the geographical occurrence of these events, opening avenues for improved predictions.


GS-01 (Physical Geography)

Mains Question:

Assess the implications of the stable corridor for extreme rainfall events in the Indian monsoon on forecasting accuracy and explore the potential it holds for risk reduction in diverse sectors. (150 words)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • Dynamics of Changing Monsoon
  • Synchronized Extreme Rainfall
  • Network Analysis and Synchronicity
  • Insights into Monsoon Stability
  • Implications for Forecasting
  • Focus on Dynamics of Synchronization

Dynamics of Changing Monsoon:

  • The Indian monsoon, a vital weather phenomenon, experiences shifts in its well-known features due to global warming.
  • Over seven decades, total seasonal rainfall has declined, impacting the duration and intensity of dry and wet spells.
  • Despite progress in extreme weather forecasting by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), devastating heavy rain events remain challenging to predict.

Synchronized Extreme Rainfall:

  • A recent study delves into the dynamics of extreme rainfall events. Despite apparent chaos in various monsoon aspects, a stable corridor has been identified, extending from West Bengal and Odisha to Gujarat and Rajasthan.
  • This corridor, where synchronized extreme rainfall events occur, has remained unchanged from 1901 to 2019. This surprising stability offers a promising avenue for enhancing process understanding and forecasting accuracy.

Network Analysis and Synchronicity:

  • Traditional statistical methods often miss the intricate relations between rainfall nodes. Utilizing IMD’s detailed rainfall data, sophisticated network analysis reveals nodes with high synchronicity in rainfall patterns. The identified ‘highway’ for extreme rainfall events has persisted for over a century, with consistent link lengths between nodes. This stable synchronicity challenges assumptions about the disappearance of stationary elements in climate systems.

Insights into Monsoon Stability:

  • An analogy involving a popcorn and kettle scenario elucidates the synchronous dance of rainfall nodes.
  • Central India, analogous to the kettle, warms up during the pre-monsoon, while rainfall kernels pop synchronously, akin to popcorn, across the ‘highway.’
  • Despite global warming influences from tropical oceans and pole-to-pole, the monsoon domain has displayed unique stability in extreme event formation.

Implications for Forecasting:

  • Contrary to expectations, the monsoon’s ability to synchronize heavy rain events and adhere to a stable corridor challenges notions about the disappearance of stationary elements in climate systems.
  • This corridor, crucial for monsoon depressions, offers insights into the active and break periods. The hypothesis of geographical trapping, primarily linked to mountain ranges along the west coast and Central India, requires modeling testing.
  • However, it presents an undeniable opportunity to enhance forecast accuracy without necessarily increasing computational costs.

Focus on Dynamics of Synchronization:

  • The study suggests a shift in focus from increasing model resolution to understanding the dynamics of synchronization for improved forecasting.
  • This strategic emphasis could potentially revolutionize how extreme rainfall events are predicted, offering a more nuanced approach to addressing climate challenges.