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Katzenberger, Anja; Schewe, Jacob; Pongratz, Julia ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0372-3960 and Levermann, Anders (2021): Robust increase of Indian monsoon rainfall and its variability under future warming in CMIP6 models. In: Earth System Dynamics, Vol. 12, No. 2: pp. 367-386 [PDF, 11MB]


The Indian summer monsoon is an integral part of the global climate system. As its seasonal rainfall plays a crucial role in India's agriculture and shapes many other aspects of life, it affects the livelihood of a fifth of the world's population. It is therefore highly relevant to assess its change under potential future climate change. Global climate models within the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) indicated a consistent increase in monsoon rainfall and its variability under global warming. Since the range of the results of CMIP5 was still large and the confidence in the models was limited due to partly poor representation of observed rainfall, the updates within the latest generation of climate models in CMIP6 are of interest. Here, we analyze 32 models of the latest CMIP6 exercise with regard to their annual mean monsoon rainfall and its variability. All of these models show a substantial increase in June-to-September (JJAS) mean rainfall under unabated climate change (SSP5-8.5) and most do also for the other three Shared Socioeconomic Pathways analyzed (SSP1-2.6, SSP2-4.5, SSP3-7.0). Moreover, the simulation ensemble indicates a linear dependence of rainfall on global mean temperature with a high agreement between the models independent of the SSP if global warming is the dominant forcing of the monsoon dynamics as it is in the 21st century; the multi-model mean for JJAS projects an increase of 0.33 mm d−1 and 5.3 % per kelvin of global warming. This is significantly higher than in the CMIP5 projections. Most models project that the increase will contribute to the precipitation especially in the Himalaya region and to the northeast of the Bay of Bengal, as well as the west coast of India. Interannual variability is found to be increasing in the higher-warming scenarios by almost all models. The CMIP6 simulations largely confirm the findings from CMIP5 models, but show an increased robustness across models with reduced uncertainties and updated magnitudes towards a stronger increase in monsoon rainfall.

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