A genesis index for monsoon disturbances

Ditchek, Sarah D.; Boos, William R.; Camargo, Suzana J.; Tippett, Michael K.

Synoptic-scale monsoon disturbances produce the majority of continental rainfall in the monsoon regions of South Asia and Australia, yet there is little understanding of the conditions that foster development of these low pressure systems. Here a genesis index is used to associate monsoon disturbance genesis in a global domain with monthly mean, climatological environmental variables. This monsoon disturbance genesis index (MDGI) is based on four objectively selected variables: total column water vapor, low-level absolute vorticity, an approximate measure of convective available potential energy, and midtropospheric relative humidity. A Poisson regression is used to estimate the index coefficients. Unlike existing tropical cyclone genesis indices, the MDGI is defined over both land and ocean, consistent with the fact that monsoon disturbance genesis can occur over land. The index coefficients change little from their global values when estimated separately for the Asian–Australian monsoon region or the Indian monsoon region, suggesting that the conditions favorable for monsoon disturbance genesis, and perhaps the dynamics of genesis itself, are common across multiple monsoon regions. Vertical wind shear is found to be a useful predictor in some regional subdomains; although previous studies suggested that baroclinicity may foster monsoon disturbance genesis, here genesis frequency is shown to be reduced in regions of strong climatological vertical shear. The coefficients of the MDGI suggest that monsoon disturbance genesis is fostered by humid, convectively unstable environments that are rich in vorticity. Similarities with indices used to describe the distribution of tropical cyclone genesis are discussed.

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Journal of Climate

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