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Deciphering the relationship between vegetation and Indian summer monsoon rainfall

Samuel, JB and Chakraborty, A and Paleri, A (2023) Deciphering the relationship between vegetation and Indian summer monsoon rainfall. In: Environmental Research Letters, 18 (4).

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/acc263


Land surface utilization in the Indian subcontinent has undergone dramatic transformations over the years, altering the region’s surface energy flux partitioning. The resulting changes in moisture availability and atmospheric stability can be critical in determining the season’s monsoon rainfall. This study uses fully coupled global climate model simulations with idealized land cover to elucidate the consequences of land surface alterations. We find that an increase in forest cover, in general, increases precipitation in India. However, precipitation is not a linear function of forest-covered-area due to the spatially heterogeneous nature of the impact. A fully forest-covered India receives less precipitation than when the forest covers only the eastern side of India, occupying just about half the area. This signifies the importance of the east-west gradient in vegetation cover observed over India. Using an energy balance model, we diagnose that the diverse nature of this precipitation response results from three different pathways: evaporation from the surface, the net energy input into the atmosphere, and moist stability. Evaporation exhibits a linear relationship with forest-covered-area and reveals minimal spatial heterogeneity. On the contrary, the influence through the other two pathways is found to be region specific. Rainfall modulation via changes in net energy input is dominant in the head Bay of Bengal region, which is susceptible to convective systems. Whereas impact through stability changes is particularly significant south of 20∘ N. In addition, we find that moisture advection modulates the significance of these pathways over northwest India. Thus, the impact of land cover changes act via three effective mechanisms and are region dependent. The findings in this study have broader ramifications since the dominant region-specific mechanisms identified are expected to be valid for other forcings and are not just limited to the scenarios considered here.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Environmental Research Letters
Publisher: Institute of Physics
Additional Information: The copyright for this article belongs to the Authors.
Keywords: Atmospheric thermodynamics; Climate models; Forestry; Moisture; Rain; Stability; Surface measurement, moisture; Covered areas; Energy inputs; Forest cover; Indian subcontinents; Indian summer monsoon rainfall; Land surface; Monsoon; Net energy; Surface energy fluxes, Vegetation
Department/Centre: Division of Mechanical Sciences > Divecha Centre for Climate Change
Division of Mechanical Sciences > Centre for Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences
Date Deposited: 28 May 2023 05:59
Last Modified: 28 May 2023 05:59
URI: https://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/81498

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