EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Nonlinear intensification of monsoon low pressure systems by the BSISO

Kieran Hunt1,2 and Andrew Turner1,2
Kieran Hunt and Andrew Turner
  • 1Department of Meteorology, Reading University, Reading, United Kingdom
  • 2National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Reading University, Reading, United Kingdom

More than half of the rainfall brought to the Indian subcontinent by the summer monsoon is associated with low-pressure systems (LPSs). Yet their relationship with the Boreal Summer Intraseasonal Oscillation (BSISO) – the dominant intraseasonal forcing on the monsoon – is only superficially understood. Using reanalysis data, we explore the relationship between the BSISO and LPS intensity, propagation, and precipitation, and associated underlying mechanisms.

The BSISO has a large impact on mean monsoon vorticity and rainfall as it moves northward – maximising both in phases 2-3 over southern India and phases 5-6 over northern India – but a much weaker relationship with total column water vapour. 
We present evidence that LPS genesis also preferentially follows these phases of the BSISO.
We identify significant relationships between BSISO phase and LPS precipitation and propagation: for example, during BSISO phase 5, LPSs over north India produce 51% heavier rainfall and propagate northwestward 20% more quickly.
Using a combination of moisture flux linearisation and quasigeostrophic theory, we show that these relationships are driven by changes to the underlying dynamics, rather than the moisture content or thermodynamic structure, of the monsoon.

Using the example of LPSs over northern India during BSISO phase 5, we show that the vertical structure of anomalous vorticity can be split into contributions from the BSISO background circulation and the nonlinear response of the LPS to anomalous BSISO circulation. Complementary hypotheses emerge about the source of this nonlinear vorticity response: nonlinear frictional convergence and secondary barotropic growth. We show that both are important. The BSISO imparts greater meridional shear on the background state, supporting LPS intensification. The BSISO background and nonlinear LPS response both contribute significantly to anomalous boundary layer convergence, and we show through vortex budget arguments that the former supports additional LPS intensification in boundary layer while the latter supports faster westward propagation.

This work therefore yields important insights into the scale interactions controlling one of the dominant synoptic systems contributing to rainfall during the monsoon.

How to cite: Hunt, K. and Turner, A.: Nonlinear intensification of monsoon low pressure systems by the BSISO, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-37,, 2023.

Supplementary materials

Supplementary material file