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Welcome to the PIK monsoon page!

This web page provides a long-term forecast of the onset and withdrawal of the Indian Summer Monsoon (the Southwest Monsoon) for the central part of India. The long-term forecast means 40 days in advance for the onset date, and 70 days in advance for the withdrawal date. Our approach is based on a teleconnection between the Eastern Ghats (EG) and North Pakistan (NP) - Tipping Elements of Indian Summer Monsoon.
Welcome to the PIK monsoon page!

Daily mean near-surface air temperature till May 5,2017 for EG(red) and NP(blue).Violet and grey lines- past 5-years average for same regions.The tipping point (red) indicates the critical temperature and the forecasted onset date.

Newline

July 30, 2017
Earliest Forecast of the Withdrawal Date of Indian Summer Monsoon - 2017 from the Central part of India.

The Indian Summer Monsoon (Southwest Monsoon) is likely (with an 84% probability) to withdraw from the Central part of India (20N, 80E) around 12th October (+/- 5 days), namely between 7th and 17th October 2017.

 The region of our forecast locates in the central part of India in the area of the Eastern Ghats (EG), namely in the southeastern part of Maharashtra state, and the western part of Chhattisgarh state and the northern part of Telangana state (the geographical point (20°N, 80°E) surrounded by the square of 2.5°x2.5° with the area of approximately 77000 km²).

 Our earliest forecast (70 days in advance) is the only one available the Central part of India. Our goal is to provide farmers, agriculture companies, managing water, and energy resources and other stakeholders from national to local levels with the information on the monsoon withdrawal dates with the aim of minimizing regional risks of the Indian population vulnerability from climate-related phenomena.

June 18, 2017
Successful earliest forecast of the onset of Southwest Monsoon 2017 over the central part of India

The Indian Summer Monsoon (the Southwest Monsoon) has set in over the central part of India, the Eastern Ghats region (20°N,80°E) 16-th June 2017. We made our prediction on May 8-th 2017 that the monsoon will set over the central India on 18-th June (+/- 4 days). Hence, our prediction made 40 days in advance was correct.

In fact, the monsoon neared the region of forecast on 14-th of June, and then it approached the Eastern Ghats region on 16-th of June. The Indian Meteorological Department (the IMD) declared that the Northern Limit of Monsoon (NLM) is passing through the Eastern Ghats region during 16-th -18-th of June (See the map below).

Our next forecast for the monsoon withdrawal date from the central part of India will be issued on July 27-th. The PIK-monitor will be updated twice a week to show how far away we are from the Monsoon withdrawal day. Follow our updates.

The Map of Advance of Southwest Monsoon across India provided by the Indian Meteorological Department (http://www.imd.gov.in/pages/allindiawxfcbulletin.php)

The Map of Advance of Southwest Monsoon across India on June 18-th provided by the Indian Meteorological Department (http://www.imd.gov.in/pages/allindiawxfcbulletin.php)
and updated on the progress of monsoon. The red lines show an average date of a long history of monsoon timing considered by the IMD as a normal. The green curves indicate the northern most limits of monsoon (NLM) up to which it has advanced on any given day. See the last green line - the position of NLM on 16th-18th June, which crossed our region of the forecast. That means the monsoon advanced up to the central part of India.

May 08, 2017
Forecast of the Onset date of the Indian Summer Monsoon - 2017 over the central part of India

The Indian Summer Monsoon (the Southwest Monsoon) is likely (with a 73% probability) to set over the central part of India, the Eastern Ghats region (20°N,80°E) on or around 18th June (+/- 4 days).

The region of our forecast locates in the central part of India in the area of the Eastern Ghats (EG), namely in the southeastern part of Maharashtra state, and the western part of Chhattisgarh state and the northern part of Telangana state (the geographical point (20°N,80°E) surrounded by the square of 2.5°x2.5° with the area of approximately 77000 km²).

How far away are we from the Monsoon withdrawal day?

Onset plot_2017

The PIK- monsoon onset monitor shows how far away we are from the Monsoon withdrawal day. Daily mean near-surface air temperature till September 14, 2017, for the Eastern Ghats (red) and North Pakistan (blue).Violet and gray lines- past 5-years average for same regions.The tipping point (red) indicates the critical temperature and the forecasted onset date.  The forecasted withdrawal dates are from 7th to 17th October. The data at the PIK-monitor will be updated twice a week. Follow our updates.

In our definition, the onset of monsoon in a particular region of the Indian subcontinent is a date when daily mean values of near-surface air temperature and relative humidity overcome the tipping point. After this date, the temperature falls abruptly, humidity growth rapidly and then in at least two days monsoon rainfall inevitably come. The tipping point means a critical threshold that we estimated for daily mean near-surface air temperature to be 35.4C and for daily mean relative humidity - 36.5% for the region of our forecast in the current global warming conditions.

Described above conditions cannot appear at a bogus monsoon, therefore our forecast excludes a bogus onset. Nevertheless, if a bogus onset appears prior the forecasted date then the monsoon onset date will shift for the duration of a bogus monsoon. In this case, we will update our forecast.

The data at the PIK- monsoon onset monitor will be updated twice a week. Follow our updates.

Newslineend

When do we issue our forecasts?

This test forecasting has started in May 2016; the forecast will be updated yearly before and during the Monsoon season. Normally, a forecast for the onset of Monsoon will be made available on May 8-th. A forecast for the monsoon withdrawal will be issued on July 27-th.

We’ve created this website to provide stakeholders on national, regional and local levels with the information on the monsoon timing with the aim to minimizing the regional risk of the Indian population vulnerability from climate-related phenomena.

This page is also intended for researchers who interested in a monsoon forecast, who use forecasts in their research, or who wish to learn more about current efforts to improve the forecasting of the monsoon timing. Here we also provide the results of forecasts of the previous years (see also press releases and news from 2016). 

 Why is a forecast of monsoon rainfall so crucial for India?

The economy of India is able to maintain its GDP in the wake of a good monsoon. However, if monsoon gets delayed by even two weeks, it can spell disaster because of the high population depending on agriculture - 70% of its people directly related to farming. Agriculture, in turn, is dependent on the monsoon.

The long-range forecast of the onset and withdrawal dates of monsoon rainfall is critical for taking appropriate decisions at various levels from farmer’s field (e.g. a choice of plowing and seeding days) to the central government (e.g. managing water and energy resources, food procurement policies and trade etc.).

Although the rainy season happens annually between June and September, the time of monsoon season’s onset and withdrawal varies within a month from year to year. The important feature of the monsoon is that it starts and ends suddenly. Hence, despite enormous progress having been made in predicting monsoon since 1886, it remains a significant scientific challenge.

How do we make predictions?

To make predictions of monsoon timing, we apply our recently developed method [Stolbova V. et.al, 2016] which focuses on Tipping elements of the Indian monsoon - the Eastern Ghats (EG) and North Pakistan (NP). 

Our prediction relies on observations of near-surface air temperature and relative humidity from both the ERA-40, the European Center for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and NCEP Reanalysis data provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Important to note that the Indian Meteorological Department (the IMD) forecasts monsoon two weeks in advance and only for Kerala state on the southern tip of India and not for the other 28 states of the country, and the IMD does not forecast withdrawal date. Our study concerns the central part of India. We performed both of our forecasts for the onset and withdrawal of monsoon for the region of the Eastern Ghats (20N,80E) where the prediction has never been made.

We were inspired by the paper of Ananthakrishanan and Soman [R. Ananthakrishnan and M.K. Soman, 1990], where the authors defined the onset of monsoon as follows: "it is not a transition from a regime of no rain to rain; it is a transition from a sporadic rainfall to a spatially organized and temporally sustained rainfall…».
In our study, we have found the evidence in observational data that we can consider the onset of monsoon as a critical transition - a sudden transition to the monsoon when critical thresholds (in particular, in near-surface air temperature, relative humidity) are reached. 

If the onset of monsoon is a critical transition, then critical phenomena can be detected. In our study, we used the phenomenon of growth of fluctuations [E. Surovyatkina et al.,2015] on the eve of the transition as a precursor of a sudden transition to the monsoon.

In contrast to traditional approaches which use precursors for prediction of the time of the critical transition (that work only retrospectively, [Kefi et al.,2014]), we discovered how to use precursors in a new way – to find regions where critical conditions for an occurrence of the Indian monsoon originate.

We revealed two geographic regions with highest fluctuations in the near-surface air temperature on the eve of the monsoon - the Eastern Ghats (EG) and North Pakistan (NP). The highest fluctuations in EG and NP show upcoming instabilities (a cyclone and anticyclone). Highly developed instability occurring in these regions create necessary conditions for the spatially organized and temporally sustained monsoon rainfall. These factors allow us to identify EG and NP as tipping elements of the monsoon.

Moreover, we found that on the eve of the onset and the withdrawal of monsoon in the central part of India the temperature and relative humidity in two tipping elements equalize. We use these findings making predictions of monsoon timing.

Results of our forecasts of 2016

The prior knowledge of dates of onset and withdrawal of monsoon is of vital importance for the population of the Indian subcontinent. In May 2016 before monsoon season, India recorded its highest-ever temperature of 51C. Hot waves have decimated crops, killed livestock and left 330 million people without enough water. At the end of monsoon season the floods in Indian this year have also broken previous records. Severe and devastating rainfall poured down, triggering dams spilling and floods. Such extreme conditions pose the vital questions such as: When will the monsoon come? When will the monsoon withdraw? 

Daily Maps provided by the Indian Meteorological Department

Daily Maps provided by the Indian Meteorological Department

Daily Maps provided by the Indian Meteorological Department,

The center of the region of our forecast  (20°N,80°E)  is indicated by the red cross.

We predicted the monsoon arrival to the Eastern Ghats (20N,80E) on the 13th of June with a deviation of +/-4 days. The prediction was made on May 6-th, 2016, that is  40 days in advance of the date of the forecast. The actual monsoon arrival was June 17-th. In this day near-surface air temperature and relative humidity overcame the critical values and the monsoon season started, that was confirmed by observations of meteorological stations located around the EG-region.

We forecasted the monsoon withdrawal from the Eastern Ghats on the 5th of October with a deviation of +/-5 days. We delivered this prediction on July 27-th, 2016, namely 70 days in advance. The actual monsoon withdrawal started on October 10-th when the relative humidity in the region started to decrease, then it passed the 80 percent threshold, and a transition back to a monsoon became impossible, meteorological stations registered it also, and on  October 12-th meteorological stations reported 'No rain' in the EG and also in areas located across the subcontinent in the direction from the North Pakistan to the Bay of Bengal. Hence, the date of monsoon withdrawal - October 10-th, predicted 70 days in advance, lies within our prediction interval.

We emphasize that our forecasts of the monsoon onset and withdrawal were delivered for 40 and 70 days in advance respectively, and both of our forecasts lie within our prediction interval.

Our results show that our method allows predicting the monsoon not only retrospectively but in the future. In 2016 we predicted of the onset and withdrawal dates of the Southwest monsoon over the Eastern Ghats region in Central India for 40 and 70 days in advance respectively. Hence, in 2016 we proved that such early prediction of the monsoon timing is possible.

Article: Stolbova, V., E. Surovyatkina, B. Bookhagen, and J. Kurths (2016): Tipping elements of the Indian monsoon: Prediction of onset and withdrawal. Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 1–9 [doi:10.1002/2016GL068392]

Weblink to the article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016GL068392/full

Data sources

The ERA-40 data are available at

http://apps.ecmwf.int/datasets/data/era40-daily/levtype=pl/

The NCEP/NCAR data are available at https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/



Inquiries:

Elena Surovyatkina,

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Transdisciplinary Concepts & Methods

elena.surovyatkina@pik-potsdam.de

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