The Indian summer monsoon is influenced by numerous factors, including aerosol-induced changes to clouds, surface and atmospheric heating, and atmospheric circulation. Most previous studies assessing the effect of aerosols on monsoon rainfall have focussed on the local impact of aerosols on precipitation on monthly to seasonal timescales. Here, we show that desert dust aerosol levels over the Arabian Sea, West Asia and the Arabian Peninsula are positively correlated with the intensity of the Indian summer monsoon, using satellite data and models; a lead–lag analysis indicates that dust and precipitation vary in concert over timescales of about a week. Our analysis of global climate model simulations indicates that by heating the atmosphere, dust aerosols induce large-scale convergence over North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, increasing the flow of moisture over India within a week. According to these simulations, dust-induced heating of the atmosphere over North Africa and West Asia rapidly modulates monsoon rainfall over central India.
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This work was supported by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) Program for Laboratory Directed Research and the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science (BER) Earth System Modeling Program. PNNL is operated for the DOE by Battelle Memorial Institute under contract DE-AC05-76RLO 1830. The MODIS, MISR and GPCP mission scientists and associated National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel are acknowledged for the production of the data used in this research effort. Computational resources for the analysis and simulations were provided through internal lab resources and an award through the DOE National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, which is supported by the Office of Science of the DOE under contract no. DE-AC02-05CH11231.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Vinoj, V., Rasch, P., Wang, H. et al. Short-term modulation of Indian summer monsoon rainfall by West Asian dust. Nature Geosci 7, 308–313 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2107
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