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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fluid Dynamics

INCOMPASS Project – Improving Weather and Climate Predictions of the Indian Monsoon

A team of scientists from the School of Earth and Environment are playing a leading role in a world-first field experiment in India, to improve weather and climate predictions of the monsoon. The group, led by Prof Doug Parker (CDT in Fluid Dynamics co-Director), forms part of the Anglo-Indian INCOMPASS project, which is making unprecedented observations of the land, ocean and atmospheric systems controlling the monsoon climate.

Research flights with the UK BAe146 research aircraft operated by the FAAM, have been conducted right across India, from the eastern and western reaches of the Indo-Gangetic plain in the north, to the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal, crossing the Deccan Plateau and Western Ghats in the south. A remarkable network of surface energy balance stations has also been established across the subcontinent, through partnership between the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and a number of Indian partners, including the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). An observational "supersite" has been set up at Kanpur in the north of India, including instruments installed by the NCAS Atmospheric Measurement Facility (AMF) at Leeds. INCOMPASS is jointly led by Andy Turner at the University of Reading and Prof GS Bhat at IISc.

Eight scientists from Leeds are taking part in the airborne and ground campaigns of INCOMPASS, while others are involved in support to the project through computer modelling. Leeds scientists are leading the investigations into scale analysis in the monsoon system, in partnership with the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) in Bengaluru and with the UK Met Office. This work will evaluate the ways in which the continental monsoon can influence the development of individual rain systems, and the way in which individual storms can cause changes in the large-scale monsoon circulation: these processes are of critical importance to the improvement of weather and climate predictions. Doug Parker has very recently published a paper on this topic, showing how the onset of the monsoon rains is controlled by the behaviour of cumulus clouds in the pre-monsoon period: he will be using the new INCOMPASS measurements to test his theoretical ideas.

To view his paper on White Rose, please visit:
DOI: doi: 10.1002/qj.2815

Returning from research flights conducted at only 500 ft above the Indian continent, Prof Parker said "the Indian Monsoon is the world's most important annual climatic phenomenon, affecting the lives of a billion people, and this is the first time that a state of the art research aircraft has performed comprehensive surveys over the sub-continent. We are getting unique data which will enable us to evaluate and improve weather and climate predictions for India. Most importantly we are collaborating closely with the leading Indian research groups in the data collection, and I look forward to these collaborations continuing in future years, so that Indian and international forecast models gain the maximum benefit from the new measurements."


Image credit: The UK Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM)


Image Credit: Oliver Halliday. Leeds PhD student Oliver Halliday (2nd from the right) spent 3 weeks earlier in the year assisting scientists from CEH Wallingford and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in the installation of observational stations in the south of India. The installation is now part of a network of stations which span the Indian peninsula and provide data for the ongoing INCOMPASS field campaign. A UK/Indian collaboration, INCOMPASS aims to better understand convection interactions with the onset and evolution of the Indian monsoon

INCOMPASS Project Details:


INCOMPASS a major joint UK-Indian consortium studying the dynamics of the Indian Monsoon funded by NERC and the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), started early this year. INCOMPASS, led by Andy Turner in Reading, will involve a large-scale field campaign in India and over the adjacent oceans, in the years 2015 and 2016, and a programme of computer modelling, with the specific aim of improving predictions of the monsoon. The project will support a 3-year postdoctoral research position in Leeds. The research group at Leeds will contribute to the airborne research programme and will lead the analysis of new high-resolution models of the monsoon, using the Met Office forecast model. Two sister projects were also funded, to study Indian Ocean dynamics, and to study atmospheric aerosol processes in the monsoon system.

For more information, please visit: