Application of regional climate models to the Indian winter monsoon over the western Himalayas


The Himalayan region is characterized by pronounced topographic heterogeneity and land use variability from west to east, with a large variation in regional climate patterns. Over the western part of the region, almost one-third of the annual precipitation is received in winter during cyclonic storms embedded in westerlies, known locally as the western disturbance. In the present paper, the regional winter climate over the western Himalayas is analyzed from simulations produced by two regional climate models (RCMs) forced with large-scale fields from ERA-Interim. The analysis was conducted by the composition of contrasting (wet and dry) winter precipitation years. The findings showed that RCMs could simulate the regional climate of the western Himalayas and represent the atmospheric circulation during extreme precipitation years in accordance with observations. The results suggest the important role of topography in moisture fluxes, transport and vertical flows. Dynamical downscaling with RCMs represented regional climates at the mountain or even event scale. However, uncertainties of precipitation scale and liquid–solid precipitation ratios within RCMs are still large for the purposes of hydrological and glaciological studies.
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