Regional variability of convection over northern India during the pre-monsoon season

Soma Sen Roy, Shouraseni Sen Roy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In general, the overall differences in activity and timing of convection are a result of the influence of large-scale regional and synoptic flow patterns on the local mesoscale environment. The linkage between the space-time variability of observed clouds and rainfall, with large-scale circulation patterns and mesoscale variables over north India during the pre-monsoon season (March to May) is the focus of this paper. We use harmonic analysis to identify the first hour of rainfall for 42 stations spread over the north Indian region during the pre-monsoon summer season (March to May), from 1980 to 2000. The variability is observed to be systematic, with large regions having similar timing for occurrence of rainfall. The stations located in the foothills of the Himalayas have a late night to early morning maximum of first hour rainfall. In the northwestern plains, the first hour of rainfall mostly starts in the early afternoon to evening hours. Further eastward, the rainfall occurs in the late evening hours. Overall, there is a gradient in the occurrence of first rainfall events from late afternoon hours in the southern sections of the north Indian region to nocturnal maxima in the higher altitude regions. Five of these stations, located in different regions of homogenous timing of rainfall occurrence, were selected to analyze in detail the variable trigger for convection. Our results indicate that convective episodes occur mostly in association with the passage of westerly troughs over this region. These upper atmosphere troughs enable moisture to flow from the surrounding oceanic regions to the dry inland regions and also provide some dynamic support to the episodes of convection. However, the actual occurrence of convection is triggered by local factors, giving rise to the mesoscale structure of the weather systems during this season. Specifically, over the plains of northwest India, convection is triggered in a moistened environment by diurnal solar heating. The late night to early morning convection over the foothills is triggered by the orography, when the moistened airflow is normally incident on the mountain slopes. Further eastward, the primary trigger for localized moist convection is downdrafts from south-eastward propagating convective systems that originate at a north-south dry line over north India. These systems propagate with a speed of about 15 m s-1. The above results are supported by geostationary satellite brightness temperature data for March to May 2008.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-158
Number of pages14
JournalTheoretical and Applied Climatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Regional variability of convection over northern India during the pre-monsoon season'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this