Changes in Extreme Rainfall Over India and China Attributed to Regional Aerosol-Cloud Interaction During the Late 20th Century Rapid Industrialization Academic Article uri icon


  • 2018. The Authors. Both mean and extreme rainfall decreased over India and Northern China during 19792005 at a rate of 0.2%/decade. The aerosol dampening effects on rainfall has also been suggested as a main driver of mean rainfall shift in India and China. Conflicting views, however, exist on whether aerosols enhance or suppress hazardous extreme heavy rainfall. Using Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) multimodel ensemble, here we show that only a subset of models realistically reproduces the late-20th-century trend of extreme rainfall for the three major regions in Asia: drying in India and Northern China and wetting in Southern China, all consistent with mean rainfall change. As a common feature, this subset of models includes an explicit treatment of the complex physical processes of aerosol-cloud interaction (i.e., both cloud-albedo and cloud-lifetime effects), while simulation performance deteriorates in models that include only aerosol direct effect or cloud-albedo effect. The enhanced aerosol pollution during this rapid industrialization era is the leading cause of the spatially heterogeneous extreme rainfall change by dimming surface solar radiation, cooling adjacent ocean water, and weakening moisture transport into the continental region, while GHG warming or natural variability alone cannot explain the observed changes. Our results indicate that the projected intensification of regional extreme rainfall during the early-to-mid 21st-century, in response to the anticipated aerosol reduction, may be underestimated in global climate models without detailed treatment of complex aerosol-cloud interaction.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 41.41

author list (cited authors)

  • Lin, L., Xu, Y., Wang, Z., Diao, C., Dong, W., & Xie, S.

citation count

  • 47

complete list of authors

  • Lin, Lei||Xu, Yangyang||Wang, Zhili||Diao, Chenrui||Dong, Wenjie||Xie, Shang-Ping

publication date

  • August 2018