When it comes to understanding future climate, the south Asian summer monsoon offers a paradox.
When it comes to understanding future climate, the south Asian summer monsoon offers a paradox. Most climate models predict that as human-caused global warming increases, monsoon rain and wind will become more intense—but weather data collected in the region shows that rainfall has actually declined over the past 50 years.
A new study from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) may help explain this discrepancy. Using chemical data from corals in the Red Sea, scientists reconstructed nearly three centuries of wind data that provided a definitive, natural record of the monsoon’s intensity. The finding, published online March 28 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, show that monsoon winds have indeed increased over the past centuries.
“The south Asian monsoon is incredibly important,” said Konrad Hughen, a paleoclimatologist at WHOI and co-author on the paper. “It’s one of the biggest climate systems on the planet and supplies water for almost a billion people—yet we don’t fully understand its long-term behavior. It’s a very complicated system with lots of moving parts.”
Read more at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Photo: A massive, 300-year-old Piorites coral in the Red Sea similar to the one used to gather information about wind patterns associated with the South Asian Monsoon. (Photo by Konrad Hughen, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)