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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. The forecasts are performed by Elena Surovyatkina.
Welcome to the PIK monsoon page!

Daily mean near-surface air temperature till May 4,2019 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

October 17, 2019 

Successful forecast of the Withdrawal Date of Indian Summer Monsoon - 2019 from the Central part of India

According to the India Meteorological Department, the Indian Summer Monsoon has withdrawn from the Central part of India (20N, 80E) 14th October 2018 and from the entire country on 16th of October (see the IMD's map below). I issued the forecast in August that it happens between 14th and 24th October 2019. Such my forecast performed 66 days in advance is correct.

The southwest monsoon began its retreat from the boundary with Pakistan 39 days later than the normal date, it was the most delayed monsoon withdrawal recorded before. Nevertheless, then it made quickly retreat from the north to center of India, and it has withdrawn from the Central part of India on the 14th of October as it was predicted. Despite unprecedented monsoon, which broken canonical rules as in advance and at withdrawal as well, both of my forecast of onset and withdrawal dates are correct.

IMD MAP, Withdrawal of Indian Summer Monsoon-2019

The Map of Withdrawal of Southwest Monsoon across India on October 16th, 2019 provided by the Indian Meteorological Department (http://www.imd.gov.in/pages/monsoon_main.php)
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 northernmost limits of monsoon (NLM) from which it withdrew on any given day. See the green line - the position of NLM on 14th October, which crossed our region of the forecast. That means the monsoon has withdrawn from the Central part of India on 14 of October as it was forecasted 66 days in advance.

August 9, 2019 

Forecast of the Withdrawal Date of Indian Summer Monsoon - 2019 from the Central part of India 

The Indian Summer Monsoon (Southwest Monsoon) is likely to withdraw from the Central part of India (20N, 80E) around 19th October (+/- 5 days), namely between 14th and 24th October 2019.

The region of this forecast locates in the central part of India in the area of the Eastern Ghats (EG): namely in the south-eastern part of Maharashtra state, and the western part of Chhattisgarh state and the northern part of Telangana state. This is an area around the geographical point (20°N, 80°E) surrounded by a square of 2.5°x2.5° with an area of approximately 77000 km².

This forecast made for 70 days in advance is the only one available in India. Last years during withdrawal of monsoon in the middle of October, the severe cyclonic storm led to evacuation hundred thousand people, devastating rainfall triggered dams spilling and flood. Such a long-term forecast could help the Government to do strategic planning, consolidate resources, and strengthen capacity to respond effectively to disasters.

How far away are we from the Monsoon withdrawal day? 

Forecast of the Withdrawal Date of Indian Summer Monsoon - 2019 from the Central part of India

The PIK- monsoon onset monitor shows how far away we are from the Monsoon withdrawal day. Daily mean near-surface air temperature till  October 14, 2019, for the Eastern Ghats (red) and North Pakistan (blue). Violet and gray lines are past 5-years average for the same regions. The forecasted withdrawal dates are from 14th to 24th of October 2019. The data at the PIK-monitor will be updated weekly. Follow our updates.

June 26, 2019 

Successful forecast of the Onset Date of Indian Summer Monsoon - 2018 for the Central part of India

The Indian Summer Monsoon (the Southwest Monsoon) neared the Eastern Ghats (20N, 80 E) on 18th of June, and then on 19th of June rainfall started. On the 20th of June, the intensity of rainfall significantly increased indicating the established monsoon in this area. My prediction made 40 days in advance for the monsoon onset date was between 10 -18 of June.

According to the map of Advance of Southwest Monsoon provided by the Indian Meteorological Department, the boundary identified by fact after 48 hours-rainfall along the country from south-west to north-east, so-called the Northern Limit of Monsoon (NLM), is located in the Eastern Ghats region between 21th -22nd of June (See the map below).

I want to clarify that I am not forecasting when the first intensive rain will start. I predict the date when the daily mean temperature crosses a certain threshold. For the Eastern Ghats, under Climate Change conditions, it is currently 36 degree Celsius, but for example, in the 90s it was 3 degrees less. Beyond that limit a transition to monsoon becomes inevitable. While in some years the transition from pre-monsoon to monsoon was fast, this year it was slow. My prediction for the monsoon onset date was between 10 -18 of June. The daily mean temperature crosses a 36-degree Celsius-threshold on 17th of June. After the disappearance of cyclone 'Vayu',  it took some time for the monsoon system to accumulate sufficient moisture again. Finally, the monsoon came after crossing the temperature threshold. Please find the evidence on the maps provided by the Indian Meteorological Department (the IMD) below. 

IMD daily forecast from 16-20 June 2019

The daily forecast over India on June 16-20 provided by the Indian Meteorological Department (http://www.imd.gov.in/pages/allindiawxfcbulletin.php)


Map of daily rainfall EG monsoon onset

The Map of daily rainfall over India on June 16-21 provided by the Indian Meteorological Department (http://www.imd.gov.in/pages/monsoon_main.php). The color bar indicates the amount of daily rainfall in mm. The region of the forecast is marked by a box. On the 19th of June, rainfall is observed in parts of Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Rainfall is observed within the region of forecast on 19th and 21st of June indicating that monsoon has arrived here.

 Monsoon under Climate Change

In the pre-monsoon period, on May 22, the temperature in Vidarbha in Central India has reached 47.8 degree Celsius. This is the region of my forecast - the hottest place in India. Please note, the Vidarbha is not a desert; it is a highly populated area in the Eastern Ghats.

Then on 12th June 2019, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia record highest temperature on earth reaching 52.2 degrees Celsius in the shadows and 63 degrees Celsius under direct sunlight ( https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/kuwait-and-saudi-arabia-record-highest-temperature-on-earth-1.1560325581417).

Monsoon started under such overheating conditions resulting in severe cyclone 'Vayu'. It was the completely disorganized beginning of the monsoon. Instead of covering whole Indian subcontinent gradually by intensive showers, monsoon this year resembles a leaky blanket. With the severe cyclone 'Vayu' on the West coast, causing the evacuation of three million people, the rains on the remaining part of the country were very local, sudden and in some places very intense, but went away after one downpour. Even though large parts of the country received rainfall, distribution was non-uniform and the amount of rainfall was less than certain criterion based on the average amount of rainfall in the past 30 years. This is why, within ten days after the beginning of Monsoon on the South, the rainfall over almost the entire country was officially declared as pre-monsoon rainfall. Usually, pre-monsoon rainfall is very local, but the pre-monsoon rainfall on the scale of the country is unprecedented. Moreover, intensive rainfall in North India started even before the monsoon in the central part of India. That is breaking the well-established rules of monsoon.

Monsoon is changing with climate change. It requires to refine the criteria of monsoon onset definition accordingly. Climatological norms, which are a 30-year average of a weather variable, must be reconsidered in the context of climate change.

the Northern Limit of Monsoon on 22 June 2019

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 northernmost limits of monsoon (NLM) up to which it has advanced on any given day. See the last green line - the position of NLM on 21th-22th June, which crossed my region of the forecast, that means the monsoon rainfall in this area continued 48 hours already and monsoon advanced up to the central part of India.

May 7, 2019

Forecast of the Onset date of the Indian Summer Monsoon - 2019 over the central part of India

The Indian Summer Monsoon (the Southwest Monsoon) is likely to set over the central part of India, the Eastern Ghats region (20°N,80°E) between the 10th and 18th of June 2019.

The region of our forecast is located 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 onset day?

Indian Monsoon onset forecast Central India 2019 

The PIK- monsoon onset monitor shows how far away we are from the Monsoon onset day. Daily mean near-surface air temperature till  June 24, 2019, for the Eastern Ghats (red) and North Pakistan (blue). Violet and gray lines are past 5-years average for the same regions. The tipping point (red) indicates the critical temperature and the forecasted onset date. The forecasted onset dates are from 10th to 18th of June, 2019. The data at the PIK-monitor will be updated twice a week. Follow our updates.

Forecast of onset of Monsoon for the Telangana state

Since 2016, I issue such a forecast for the central part of India in the area of the Eastern Ghats (EG). In 2019, I start to test the forecast for the Telangana state (17.5°N, 80°E), namely towards the East of Hyderabad, south-east of Warangal, west of the Godavari river and north of Khammam. Telangana is the 'Seed Bowl' of India; monsoon forecast is vital for the state. Export of seed can create economic opportunity for small and marginal farmers.

 I estimate the date of monsoon onset for Telangana as between the 8th and 16th of June 2019.

 Indian Monsoon onset forecast Telangana 2019

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

Map of daily rainfall Telangana monsoon onset

The Map of daily rainfall over India on June 16-18 provided by the Indian Meteorological Department (http://www.imd.gov.in/pages/monsoon_main.php). The color bar indicates the amount of daily rainfall in mm. The region of the forecast is marked by a box. On 16th of June, rainfall is observed over Odisha and parts of Chhattisgarh, which are to the right of the box. The appearance of green patches within the square on 17th and 18th of June indicates that the monsoon has started in the region of Telangana.

Even so, those two regions, Eastern Ghats and Telangana, are neighbouring; there is a considerable difference in the interplay of the two branches of Monsoon (one from the Arabian Sea and another from the Bay of Bengal) in these regions. In some years, monsoon onset appears at the same date in these two areas, while in other years it appears - with a difference of 6-10 days. Such a difference might be caused by the simultaneous appearance of two cyclones in the Arabian Sea and in the Bay of Bengal, which prevent the advance of monsoon for several days. Another reason might be an anticyclone on the north of the Arabian Sea, which decelerates the turning of the Monsoon winds in the Bay of Bengal toward Indian subcontinent. These synoptic events are impossible to predict well in advance and it could be forecasted near the date of its appearance only. This is why the forecast in Telangana region is challenging. In such a case the Indian Meteorological Department track cyclones perfectly that helps me to update a monsoon onset date in June, on the eve of monsoon. We are collaborating with the Indian Meteorological Department and our forecasts complement each other. We are working together to improve climate resilience by building new capacities via the early forecast of monsoon.

October 21, 2018

Successful earliest forecast of the Withdrawal Date of Indian Summer Monsoon - 2018 from the Central part of India

The Indian Summer Monsoon (the Southwest Monsoon) has withdrawn from the Central part of India (20N, 80E) 18th - 21st October 2018. I issued our forecast on July 30, 2018, that the monsoon will withdraw from the Central part of India around 18th of October (+/- 5 days), namely between 13rd and 23rd of October 2018. Hence, my earliest forecast of the withdrawal date made 80 days in advance was correct.

What is important to note is that my forecast of monsoon withdrawal date is the only one available in India. In 2016 and 2017,  I issued successful predictions around 70 days in advance. In 2018, for the first time, I performed a successful forecast 80 days in advance.

How did the monsoon withdrawal in 2018?

In the first decade of October, namely between 2nd-6th of October, it seemed that the rainy season is over for whole Northern part of India, and the Monsoon quickly left in the English way without saying goodbye. This is why the withdrawal line appeared on the Map of Withdrawal Southwest of Monsoon at 16°N on October 6 (http://www.imd.gov.in/pages/monsoon_main.php). Does it mean, predicting withdrawal between 13 and 23 of October, I have missed?

In fact, it was the calm before a storm or dry spell in Monsoon how it is called in India. Starting from October 7, Monsoon came back to Northeast part of India with Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Titli; widespread rains hit Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, districts, killing nine people, on October 11. About 300000 people were evacuated from five coastal districts. The Heavy Rainfall and Wind Warnings were continued until 14th of October and then isolated rains in Central part of India until 18th of October.

According to the IMD,  "Southwest Monsoon has withdrawn from the remaining parts of the country and thus from the entire country today, the 21st October 2018."

Thus, my prediction for very late withdrawal of Monsoon between 13 and 23 of October was correct.

Please find the evidence on the maps provided by the Indian Meteorological Department (the IMD) below.

the evidence: How did the monsoon withdrawal in 2018?

Caption

Summarising results of my tests of forecasting Monsoon onset and withdrawal for the period from 2016 to 2018, I emphasize for the three years in a row; all six forecasts were successful.

July 30, 2018
Earliest Forecast of the Withdrawal Date of Indian Summer Monsoon - 2018 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 18th October (+/- 5 days), namely between 13th and 23rd October 2018.

The region of our forecast locates in the central part of India in the area of the Easter 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. Last years severe and devastating rainfall poured down on the eve of withdrawal of monsoon, triggering dams spilling and floods. Our long-range forecast of the withdrawal date of monsoon rainfall is crucial for taking appropriate decisions for as for local and central Government as well as farmers, sugar companies, managing water and energy resources, and other stakeholders.

PIK Monsoon Withdrawal Monitor 2018

The PIK- monsoon withdrawal monitor shows how far away we are from the Monsoon withdrawal day. Daily mean near-surface air temperature till  December 30, 2018, for the Eastern Ghats (red) and North Pakistan (blue). Violet and gray lines are past 5-years average for the same regions. The tipping point (red) indicates the critical temperature and the forecasted withdrawal date. The forecasted withdrawal dates are from 13th to 23rd October. The data at the PIK-monitor will be updated twice a week. Follow our updates.


June 19, 2018

Successful earliest forecast of the Onset date of the Indian Summer Monsoon - 2018 over the central part of India

The Indian Summer Monsoon (the Southwest Monsoon) neared the Eastern Ghats (20N, 80 E) on 9th of June, and then it embraced the region of forecast on 12th of June. We made our prediction on May 7, 2018, that the monsoon will set over central India on 15th June (+/- 4 days). Hence, our prediction made 40 days in advance was correct.

After 12th of June, there is no further advance in internal part of the Indian subcontinent during the next week until today, 19th June, due to (i) a weakening of the monsoon circulation over the Bay of Bengal, (ii) local overheating of the Eastern Ghats (20N,80 E) region, where temperature reached 44°C that is linked to global warming, and (ii) premonsoon rainfall 7- 8 June appeared due to overheating.

According to the map of Advance of Southwest Monsoon on 19 June 2018 provided by the Indian Meteorological Department, the Northern Limit of Monsoon (NLM) is located in the Eastern Ghats region during 9th -19th 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 27th, 2018. The PIK-monitor will be updated twice a week to show how far away we are from the Monsoon withdrawal day. Follow our updates.

Advance of Monsoon onset 2018

The Map of Advance of Southwest Monsoon across India on June 19th provided by the Indian Meteorological Department (http://www.imd.gov.in/pages/monsoon_main.php)
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 northernmost limits of monsoon (NLM) from which it withdrew on any given day. See the last green line - the position of NLM on 9th-19th October, which crossed our region of the forecast. That means the monsoon has withdrawn from the Central part of India.


May 07, 2018
Forecast of the Onset date of the Indian Summer Monsoon - 2018 over the central part of India

The Indian Summer Monsoon (the Southwest Monsoon) is likely to set over the central part of India, the Eastern Ghats region (20°N,80°E) around 15th June (+/- 4 days) namely between 11th to 19th June 2018.

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).

October 16, 2017

Successful earliest forecast of the Withdrawal Date of Indian Summer Monsoon from the Central part of India.

The Indian Summer Monsoon (the Southwest Monsoon) has withdrawn from the Central part of India (20N, 80E) 15th-16th October 2017. We issued our forecast on July 30, 2017, that the monsoon will withdraw from the Central part of India around 12th October (+/- 5 days), namely between 7th and 17th October 2017. Hence, our earliest forecast of the withdrawal date made 70 days in advance was correct.

The withdrawal of monsoon from northwest India normally starts on September 1. However, the 2017 monsoon withdrawal was delayed for nearly 3 weeks and commenced on 27th September. Nevertheless, the monsoon withdrawal reached the region of our forecast on 15th October, and then it passed the Eastern Ghats region on 16th October, i.e. within our prediction interval. It was confirmed today by the information provided by the Indian Meteorological Department (the IMD), it declared that the monsoon withdrawal line passes through the region of our forecast (the Eastern Ghats, 20N, 80E) 15th -16th October 2017. Please find the evidence on the map below.

PIK-Monsoon Withdrawal 2017 with map of the IMD

The Map of Withdrawal of Southwest Monsoon across India on October 16th provided by the Indian Meteorological Department (http://www.imd.gov.in/pages/monsoon_main.php)
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 northernmost limits of monsoon (NLM) from which it withdrew on any given day. See the last green line - the position of NLM on 15th-16th October, which crossed our region of the forecast. That means the monsoon has withdrawn from the Central part of India.

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 October 22, 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/


BMU

Prof. Dr. Dr.Sc Elena Surovyatkina is the group leader of the monsoon research within the EPICC project. This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.

Inquiries:

Elena Surovyatkina,

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Complexity Science: Machine Learning, Nonlinear Methods and Decision Strategies

elena.surovyatkina[at]pik-potsdam.de

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