Interaction of Convective Organization and Monsoon Precipitation, Atmosphere, Surface and Sea (INCOMPASS)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Meteorology

Abstract

The monsoon supplies the majority of water for agriculture and industry in South Asia, and is therefore critical to the well-being of a billion people. Active and break periods in the monsoon have a major influence on the success of farming, while year-to-year variations in the rainfall have economic consequences on an international scale. The growing population and developing economy mean that understanding and predicting the monsoon is therefore vital. Despite this, our capability to model the monsoon, and to make forecasts on scales from days to the season ahead is limited by large errors that develop quickly. The relatively poor performance of weather prediction models over India is due to a very strong and complex relationship between the land, ocean and atmosphere, which are linked by the process of convection, in the form of the rain-bringing cumulonimbus clouds. Forecast errors occur primarily because the convective clouds are not accurately linked to the large-scale circulation or to the surface conditions, and these errors persist to long time scales. Worldwide, weather and climate forecast models are gaining resolution, and yet the errors in monsoon rainfall are not diminishing. A lack of detailed observations of the land, ocean and atmospheric parts of the monsoon system, on a range of temporal and spatial scales, is preventing a more thorough understanding of processes in monsoon convective clouds and at the land surface, and their interaction with the large-scale circulation.
This project will use a programme of new measurements over India and the adjacent oceans to advance monsoon forecasting capability in the Indo-UK community. The first detachment of the FAAM research aircraft to India, in combination with an intensive ground-based observation campaign, will gather new observations of the land surface, the boundary layer structure over land and ocean, and atmospheric profiles. We will institute a new long-term series of measurements of energy and water exchanges at the land surface. Research measurements from one monsoon season will be combined with long-term observations on the Indian operational networks. Observations will be focused on two transects: in the northern plains of India, covering a range of surface types from irrigated to rain-fed agriculture, and wet to dry climatic zones; and across the Western Ghats, with transitions from land to ocean and across orography. The observational analysis will represent a unique and unprecedented characterization of monsoon processes linking the land, ocean and atmospheric patterns which control the rainfall. Long-term measurements will allow the computation of statistical relationships between the various factors.
The observational analysis will feed directly into improved forecasting at the Met Office and NCMRWF. The Met Office Unified Model, which is used for weather forecasting at both institutions, will be set up in a range of different ways for the observational period. In particular, we will pioneer the test development of a new 100m-resolution atmospheric model, which we expect to greatly improve the representation of land-ocean-atmosphere interactions. Another priority will be to improve land surface modelling in monsoon forecasts. By comparing the results of the very high resolution models on small domains with lower-resolution models representing the global weather patterns, it will be possible to describe the key processes controlling monsoon rainfall, and to indicate how these need to be represented in different applications, such as weather predictions or climate predictions. Through model evaluation at a range of scales, the development of simple theoretical understanding of the rainfall processes, and working with groups responsible for operational model improvement, the project will lead directly to improvements in monsoon forecasts. By improving rainfall prediction, we expect the work to have an economic impact in India and internationally.

Planned Impact

The primary impacts of our research will be delivered through our partners, the Met Office, National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) and the India Meteorological Department (IMD). The effectiveness of these public weather forecasting and climate prediction services will be enhanced by better understanding of existing and new processes affecting monsoon predictability. The primary goal of the project is to improve the performance of the weather and climate forecast models used by these centres. Furthermore, improved understanding of the key processes in the monsoon will have knock-on scientific benefits, for instance in the improved conceptual understanding which can be taught to forecasters, improved ability to give strategic advice on issues such as land management, and better-informed strategies for model development. Improved monsoon modelling and forecasting capability in the medium-to-long term will raise the profile and performance of these organisations nationally and internationally, increasing their reputation (the current status of monsoon prediction is currently regarded as poor) and saleability of their products. These organisations would also benefit from our quantitative assessment of the value of new observations demonstrated by the proposed field campaign, and generally greater awareness of the uses of such data.

Our weather-service partners will convey impacts of our research to national and state government ministries in India. These organisations will be provided with quantitative evidence to inform new policies of investment in the monsoon observing system, given the improvements to forecasting and analysis that we expect our new and additional observations will initiate. New interpretations of the effect of contrasts between different surface types on weather over India should also influence policies on agriculture and extraction of groundwater (both related to irrigation).

As a result of improved weather and climate predictions, there is an opportunity for planners and governors at the state and district level to benefit from improved protection against extremes, and associated impact reductions (of flooding, drought, delayed monsoon onset), if the intended improvements to understanding of monsoon variability and forecasting can be effectively communicated to society. For instance, the IMD are already communicating forecast information to millions of farmers via new electronic media.

Technical staff undertaking in situ measurements in India will benefit from improved skills and knowledge in measurement of surface fluxes, the relative merits of the different techniques involved and improvement in their quality control procedures. This will make their data products more reliable and useful.

Finally, the public will benefit through greater awareness of monsoon forecasting and its inherent limitations, and its effect on society. The public will also become engaged more directly with the process of science.
 
Description Research funded under this award (Parker et al., 2016, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society) has developed new theory for the onset progression of the Indian summer monsoon. This will aid in the understanding of how to model this process, and therefore how it can be better forecast for the good of society. (Knowing the timing of the advancement of the monsoon rains each year across India is vital for agricultural, industrial and other users of water resources.)
Exploitation Route We are expanding our analysis (performed initially in observations) to seasonal weather forecasting models.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment
 
Description Participation by Indian project partners in the 2016 aircraft campaign of INCOMPASS (and an earlier September 2015 recce visit of the aircraft to India) has encouraged participation by early career scientists in India.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Environment
Impact Types Cultural
 
Description British Government press release 12 July 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact British Government press release: UK-India joint observational campaign to study monsoon variability. Dr Harsh Vardhan (Hon'ble Union Minister for Ministry of Science & Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences) and Dr Alexander Evans (British Deputy High Commissioner to India) boarded the UK's Atmospheric Research Aircraft to study monsoon variability in Lucknow.

Describes a research flight on the INCOMPASS field campaign of July 2016 with governmental participation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/world-location-news/uk-india-joint-observational-campaign-to-study-mon...
 
Description Indian Press Information Bureay press release 8 June 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Indian Press Information Bureau press release: Observational Campaign to study Small-Scale Processes and Large-Scale Monsoon Variability under a Joint Indo-UK Effort.

Press release covering the INCOMPASS field campaign in India, summer 2016, involving the UK's FAAM Atmospheric Research Aircraft
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=146051
 
Description Indian and UK scientists team up to tackle monsoon 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact http://www.nerc.ac.uk/press/releases/2014/19-monsoon/ and http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/international/offices/officeinindia/indianews/indian-and-uk-scientists-team-up-to-tackle-monsoon/ are NERC and RCUK press releases, and https://www.gov.uk/government/world-location-news/indian-and-uk-scientists-team-up-to-tackle-monsoon is a UK government article on the new India-UK projects funded under the NERC/MoES monsoons programme. My project INCOMPASS is one of the three projects funded under this programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.nerc.ac.uk/press/releases/2014/19-monsoon/
 
Description Ministry of Earth Sciences (India) press briefing, 13 July 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Observational Campaign to study small-scale processes and large-scale monsoon variability under a Joint Indo-UK effort

The Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences convened a press-briefing in our Lucknow operational base, at the end of our summer 2016 field campaign, on the likely outcomes of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://moes.gov.in/writereaddata/files/press_brief_v3.pdf
 
Description Monsoon breaks could cause wind power stress article in environmentalresearchweb 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Contributed quotes and factual material to article authored by journalist Kate Ravilious in environmentalresearchweb on our recent paper published in Environmental Research Letters journal. The article resulted in significant increase in downloads of the journal paper.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/news/61875
 
Description NERC press release, 25 May 2016, for INCOMPASS and SWAAMI aircraft campaigns 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Indian and UK researchers team up to reveal secrets of the monsoon. NERC Chief Executive Duncan Wingham said: This is the most ambitious atmospheric observation campaign that NERC has undertaken. The campaign will gather fresh data on the region in more detail than ever before, bringing together scientists from the UK and India to improve forecasts of the South Asian monsoon and to learn more about its potential impacts on the global climate.."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.nerc.ac.uk/press/releases/2016/23-faam/
 
Description NERC/RCUK press release, 26 August 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Joint NERC and RCUK press releases on funded INCOMPASS project as part of NERC/MoES monsoons programme.
Includes comments from Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey.

The UK's Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change Edward Davey has today announced new UK-India research projects that will see Indian and UK scientists come together to improve forecasts of the South Asian monsoon, including the potential impacts of climate change.

Edward Davey is visiting India with the UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

The Drivers of Variability in the South Asian Monsoon research programme will receive combined funding for approximately £8m from NERC, the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and the UK's Met Office. This builds on a flourishing research partnership between the UK and India, which has already invested over £150m in research between the two nations.

The summer monsoon provides 80 per cent of annual rainfall to around a billion people. Accurate predictions of intense downpours and breaks in the monsoon are essential to let society plan for floods and droughts. Last year, the monsoon advanced particularly rapidly over northern India, causing devastating damage. Meanwhile, prolonged breaks in 2009 led to a severe shortage of rainfall and poor harvests. Forecasting the precise timing and location of the rains is vital to the region's economy, which is dominated by farming, and for managing its increasingly pressured water resources.

The programme will examine the physical processes of the monsoon through a large-scale observational campaign. It will use the UK's BAe-146 atmospheric research aircraft and ocean gliders, and Indian research ships, to gather fresh data on the region in more detail than ever before. This programme will help us in better understanding of the physical processes of the South Asian monsoon and their improved representation in weather and climate models.

The research will begin in 2015 and is expected to last for between three and five years. Each project will be led by a UK and an Indian researcher. The UK team is headed by Professor Hugh Coe (University of Manchester), Dr Andy Turner (University of Reading) and Dr Adrian Matthews (University of East Anglia). They will be joined by Indian colleagues Dr S Suresh Babu (Indian Space Research Organisation), Professor GS Bhat (Indian Institute of Science) and PN Vinayachandran (Indian Institute of Science).

Speaking at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai as part of a three-day visit to India, Secretary of State Edward Davey said:
"Our countries share a strong and growing relationship at the forefront of science and technology, one that aims to improve lives of people. The monsoon is a hugely important part of peoples' livelihoods here in India. It is also a very important part of the global climate system. This major new UK - India research initiative on the monsoon is a great example of how UK and India can work together to tackle climate change and other global challenges."

Dr Shailesh Nayak, secretary of MoES, said:
"I am happy to note that the Indian and UK scientists are collaborating on observational campaigns including the NERC aircraft and modelling efforts to study the complex physical processes of the South Asian monsoon. I am sure this collaboration will facilitate improving the representation of monsoon physical processes in weather and climate models."

Ned Garnett, NERC's interim head of research, said:
"We are delighted to be teaming up again with our colleagues at the Ministry of Earth Sciences in India to tackle this important problem. Being able to deliver better predictions of the monsoon will be of huge benefit to the people of South Asia and the regional economy, which is of course an important part of the global economy. This programme will bring together complementary skills of UK and Indian scientists in joint projects to address these global issues."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.nerc.ac.uk/press/releases/2014/19-monsoon/
 
Description Participation in NERC Into the Blue outreach week at Machester airport runway park 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Worked on exhibition stand "Chasing the monsoon" at NERC's Into The Blue science outreach event at Machester Airport Runway park, October 2016. This covered the activities of the INCOMPASS and SWAAMI field campaigns using the FAAM Atmospheric Research Aircraft in India, May-July 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://intotheblue.nerc.ac.uk/manchester/
 
Description Participation of University of Reading INCOMPASS PDRA in 2017 STEM for Britain presentation at House of Commons 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact University of Reading's post-doctoral research assistant on the INCOMPASS project, Dr Arathy Menon, participated in the poster presentations at the House of Commons on 14 March 2017 for the annual "STEM for Britain" competition.

Poster entitled, "Using aircraft and ground measurements over India to improve forecasts of monsoon rainfall".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.setforbritain.org.uk/2017event.asp
 
Description RCUK press release, 11 July 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact RCUK press release: Indian Science Minister participates in the UK-India joint observational campaign to study monsoon variability

Describes the participation of Indian joint-Minister of Ministry of Earth Sciences and Department of Science and Technology in one of the research flights for the INCOMPASS field campaign, during July 2016. The flight took place from Lucknow airport in the northern plains of India.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/international/offices/india/indianews/160711/