A new study from a team of researchers from India and Germany has found that aerosols like black carbon and dust, which make the Indo-Gangetic Plain one of the most polluted regions of the world, have led to increased incidents of high rainfall events in the foothills of the Himalayan Region.
The Indo-Gangetic Plain is located south and upwind of the Himalayan foothills. The region is associated with high aerosol loading, much of which is black carbon and dust, and thus provides an opportunity for studying how aerosol affects extreme rainfall events, particularly when an air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain, technically called orographic forcing.
A team of researchers from the National Institute of Technology Rourkela, Leipzig Institute for Meteorology (LIM), the University of Leipzig (Germany), the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-Madras), and the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur), supported by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, under the DST Climate Change program, have highlighted the crucial role of the aerosol direct radiative effect on high precipitation events over the Himalayan region. The findings of the current work have recently been accepted for publishing in the scientific journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
They showed that particulate emissions can alter the physical and dynamical properties of cloud systems and, in turn, amplify rainfall events over orographic regions downwind of highly polluted urban areas.
The study used 17 years (2001–2017) of rainfall rate, aerosol measurements called aerosol optical depth (AOD), and meteorological re-analysis fields such as pressure, temperature and moisture content at different altitudes to compute the thermodynamic variable ‘moist static energy’ and outgoing long-wave radiation from the Indian region, to investigate high precipitation events on the foothills of the Himalayas.
The team found clear associations between high precipitation events, high aerosol loading, and high moist static energy (MSE). The findings also highlight the crucial role of the radiative effect of aerosol on high-precipitation events over the Himalayan region.
The results of the study indicate that aerosols can play a vital role in exciting high-precipitation (HP) events over the Himalayas during the monsoon season. Thus, aerosols are essential to consider when forecasting HP events over the Himalayan region in regional modelling studies.
Read the full study here: Aerosol-enhanced high precipitation events near the Himalayan foothills.