Research ArticleCLIMATOLOGY

The weakening relationship between Eurasian spring snow cover and Indian summer monsoon rainfall

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Science Advances  27 Mar 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 3, eaau8932
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau8932


Substantial progress has been made in understanding how Eurasian snow cover variabilities affect the Indian summer monsoon, but the snow-monsoon relationship in a warming atmosphere remains controversial. Using long-term observational snow and rainfall data (1967–2015), we identified that the widely recognized inverse relationship of central Eurasian spring snow cover with the Indian summer monsoon rainfall has disappeared since 1990. The apparent loss of this negative correlation is mainly due to the central Eurasian spring snow cover no longer regulating the summer mid-tropospheric temperature over the Iranian Plateau and surroundings, and hence the land-ocean thermal contrast after 1990. A reduced lagged snow-hydrological effect, resulting from a warming-induced decline in spring snow cover, constitutes the possible mechanism for the breakdown of the snow-air temperature connection after 1990. Our results suggest that, in a changing climate, Eurasian spring snow cover may not be a faithful predictor of the Indian summer monsoon rainfall.

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