New research from an NYU/Abu Dhabi team has found that temperatures in the Atlantic are having a growing effect on the Indian monsoon, something that could prove crucial in predicting how severe rains are likely to be.
The study comes as climate change alters the patterns of monsoon rainfall in India, with likely far-reaching effects on agriculture, the economy and society.
In the latest study the team, which includes Nan Chen as well as 3 other NYU/Abu Dhabi researchers (Sabeerali CT, Ajayamohan RS, Bangalath HK) looked at the relationship between sea-surface temperature variability in the Atlantic and variability in the Indian summer monsoon.
Colder sea-surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Atlantic, linked to a weather system called the Atlantic Zonal Mode (AZM), tend to be associated with stronger monsoon rains.
The colder temperatures over the Atlantic strengthen the waves into the Indian Ocean, which increases the difference in upper atmospheric temperature between the Indian Ocean and the Indian continent. This causes more powerful moisture-laden winds to blow onto the land, leading to greater monsoon rains.