Climate Dynamics

, Volume 50, Issue 9–10, pp 3671–3685 | Cite as

Spatial variation of different rain systems during El Niño and La Niña periods over India and adjoining ocean

  • K. Saikranthi
  • Basivi Radhakrishna
  • S. K. Satheesh
  • T. Narayana Rao


The spatial patterns of rainfall and rain systems during El Niño and La Niña episodes are distinctly different due to the longitudinal variations in the Walker circulation ascent/decent branches over India and adjoining Oceans. In order to examine these differences, 16 years (1998–2013) of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR) data have been utilized. TRMM-PR delineated precipitating systems (convective, stratiform and shallow) show distinctly different spatial structures over India and adjoining Oceans during El Niño and La Niña episodes. During the El Niño episode, the occurrence of deep systems is high over north of 20°N latitude, and shallow systems are plentiful over south of 20°N latitude. On the other hand, during the La Niña episodes, the occurrence of shallow systems is in excess over Pakistan, central India, northwest Arabian Sea, southwest Indian Ocean and northern Bay of Bengal while the deep systems are abundant over west coast of India, Ganges basin, eastern Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. The excess convective rain pixels observed during El Niño years are from deep and deep and wide convective core systems due to increase in the CAPE, nevertheless the broad stratiform rain systems are prevalent during La Niña years due to the high convergence of moisture flux and mid-tropospheric upward motion. Though the convective occurrence is more, their intensity is weaker during El Niño years than during La Niña years, indicating the intense nature of convective storms during La Niña episodes.


El Niño La Niña Spatial structure of rainfall Southwest monsoon 



The authors express their profound gratitude to the TRMM, University of Washington, ECMWF and NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA teams for providing the necessary rainfall, 3D gridded TRMM-PR data, ERA-Interim data and GPCP Precipitation data, respectively. Special thank goes to Prof. J. Srinivasan for his fruitful discussions. We profoundly thank the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions in improving the quality of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

382_2017_3833_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3277 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Department of SpaceNational Atmospheric Research LaboratoryGadankiIndia

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