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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(11), 901; doi:10.3390/rs8110901

Differential Heating in the Indian Ocean Differentially Modulates Precipitation in the Ganges and Brahmaputra Basins

1
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation Federal InuTeq, Contractor to U.S. Geological Survey, Earth Resources Observation and Science Center, 47914 252nd Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57198, USA
2
Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence, South Dakota State University, 1021 Medary Ave., Wecota Hall 506B, Brookings, SD 57007, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Krishna Prasad Vadrevu, Rama Nemani, Chris Justice, Garik Gutman, Xiaofeng Li and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 30 July 2016 / Revised: 27 September 2016 / Accepted: 12 October 2016 / Published: 31 October 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [6496 KB, uploaded 31 October 2016]   |  

Abstract

Indo-Pacific sea surface temperature dynamics play a prominent role in Asian summer monsoon variability. Two interactive climate modes of the Indo-Pacific—the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean dipole mode—modulate the amount of precipitation over India, in addition to precipitation over Africa, Indonesia, and Australia. However, this modulation is not spatially uniform. The precipitation in southern India is strongly forced by the Indian Ocean dipole mode and ENSO. In contrast, across northern India, encompassing the Ganges and Brahmaputra basins, the climate mode influence on precipitation is much less. Understanding the forcing of precipitation in these river basins is vital for food security and ecosystem services for over half a billion people. Using 28 years of remote sensing observations, we demonstrate that (i) the tropical west-east differential heating in the Indian Ocean influences the Ganges precipitation and (ii) the north-south differential heating in the Indian Ocean influences the Brahmaputra precipitation. The El Niño phase induces warming in the warm pool of the Indian Ocean and exerts more influence on Ganges precipitation than Brahmaputra precipitation. The analyses indicate that both the magnitude and position of the sea surface temperature anomalies in the Indian Ocean are important drivers for precipitation dynamics that can be effectively summarized using two new indices, one tuned for each basin. These new indices have the potential to aid forecasting of drought and flooding, to contextualize land cover and land use change, and to assess the regional impacts of climate change. View Full-Text
Keywords: Indian Ocean dipole; sea surface temperature; Ganges precipitation; Brahmaputra precipitation; outgoing longwave radiation; Indian monsoon; El Niño; La Niña; empirical orthogonal function; geopotential height Indian Ocean dipole; sea surface temperature; Ganges precipitation; Brahmaputra precipitation; outgoing longwave radiation; Indian monsoon; El Niño; La Niña; empirical orthogonal function; geopotential height
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Pervez, M.S.; Henebry, G.M. Differential Heating in the Indian Ocean Differentially Modulates Precipitation in the Ganges and Brahmaputra Basins. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 901.

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