The world’s wettest place in North East India is witnessing a decline in rainfall (2022)

An analysis of 119 years of rainfall measurements at different rain gauge stations across North East India, has revealed a decreasing trend in summer rainfall since 1973, including in rainy Meghalaya, reputed for hosting the world’s wettest place.

The study has said that the decline in rainfall is driven by changes in the Indian Ocean temperature and conversion of forestlands and vegetation cover to croplands in the last two decades. These long-term rainfall changes in the region are responsible for the observed shift of the world’s wettest place from Cherrapunji to Mawsynram (separated by 15-km) in recent decades. Mawsynram receives an average annual rainfall of 11,871 mm while Cherrapunji braces for torrential rains every year with an annual average at 11,430 mm.

“Largest rainfall areas are also showing changes in rainfall and that is important for water management,” said Jayanarayanan Kuttippurath, an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Oceans, Rivers, Atmosphere and Land Sciences, Indian Institutes of Technology, Kharagpur, West Bengal.

“We have also shown the influence of changes in moisture transport from the Indian Ocean, including the Arabian Sea in the pre-monsoon period, on the rainfall shift and its reduction in the North East and Cherrapunji in recent decades,” said Kuttippurath who is the co-author of the study.

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Since North East India is mostly hilly and is an extension of the Indo-Gangetic Plains, the region is highly sensitive to changes in regional and global climate. Pre-monsoon and monsoon are the rainy seasons of North East India.

Rain-bearing summer air currents (the Bay of Bengal branch of monsoons) that move north from Bangladesh’s hot and humid floodplains hit the funnel-shaped relief of the Meghalaya hills with deep valleys and gorges. The steep parallel mountains (Garo, Khasi and Jaintia hills) in Meghalaya block the movement of the clouds to the north; they are squeezed in through the gorges and then forced to ascend the steep slopes and shed most of their rainfall in the region.

Despite its rainy reputation the state suffers from water shortage, a paradox that propelled the state to launch its water policy in 2019. A section of experts has also underscored the inadequate availability of rainfall data from the region that challenges longterm observations.

Study finds rainfall decreasing in North East India

The current study used daily and continuous rain gauge measurements from 16 stations, which are managed by the India Meteorological Department, spread across seven states of North East India for the period 1901–2019. As for rainfall measurements from the Mawsynram station, the scientists used data from the annual reports of the Meghalaya Planning Department (the 1970s to 2010) since Mawsynram does not have an IMD-managed rain gauge set up, they noted.

Since the Mawsynram station measurements are yearly averaged, they are not used for monthly and seasonal analyses as for the other stations, the researchers said. According to the study, most stations in North East India show negative trends in rainfall, with the largest decreasing trends in rainfall in summer and the lowest in winter.

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“To cross-check our analysis with these measurements, we have used reanalysis and satellite data too,” said Kuttippurath. “Reanalyses are a combination of measurements and model simulations. Rainfall at Mawsynram is better than that at Cherrapunji as per the data from the 1970s to 2010. We need long term measurements for monitoring and planning and if we want to make a statement on the change in the climate. So far we can say that rainfall is decreasing in the North East and rainfall is changing in Mawsynram and Cherrapunji.”

The world’s wettest place in North East India is witnessing a decline in rainfall (1)

“Monthly analyses of rain gauge measurements gives you insight on changes at a regional level,” he added. “And this is possible through a good density of rain gauges that can help us understand spatial variations. But satellite measurements help study large areas and those places where we do not have ground-based measurements.”

GS Bhat, Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, who was not associated with the study remarked that rainfall measurement “looks trivial” but is one of the “hardest quantities” to measure accurately.

“There is a lot of spatial variation,” said Bhat. “For example, in one year, I compared Indian Institute of Science annual rainfall with that measured at IMD Centre on Palace road. The two are separated by about 6 km as the crow flies, but their rainfall differed by 30%, IMD value being higher. Indian Institute of Science and Bengaluru airport values were closer. It is not yet clear what the spatial extent over which rainfall measured by a rain gauge is representative of. This is more so in hilly areas such as the North East.”

“Mawsynram may receive more annual rainfall than Sohra (Cherrapunji) but the rain gauge was located at the latter location by the British,” Bhat told Mongabay-India. As rain gauge density increases, then we start getting better ideas about spatial variations.”

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Cherrapunji is set upon a plateau that rises 600 metres above the surrounding valleys on the southern slopes of the state. The terrain in and around Cherrapunji is an undulating one with pockets of shrubs. The steep slopes in the gorges are covered by tropical rainforests. In many places, there is hardly an inch of topsoil but mostly rock outcrop, according to an official profile.

Rahul Mahanta, associate professor at Cotton University’s Department of Physics noted that a data crisis in the form of inadequate availability of long and high-quality instrumental records of rainfall data for North East India continues to hinder their ability to carry out a robust evaluation of rainfall variability. “Such robust assessments are essential to better understand, detect, predict and respond to changes in rainfall variability due to climate change,” noted Mahanta, who was not associated with the study, in an email.

Meghalaya’s cave systems also hold clues to how rainfall has changed in the past and how it is likely to behave in the future. For example, researchers are also studying stalagmite growth in the Mawmluh Cave to understand the link between climatic conditions in the Pacific Ocean and winter rainfall amounts in the water shortage-hit region. This distant link between land and ocean records could aid in predicting dry season rainfall amounts in North East India.

Long term data needed

India is planning to set up a Regional Climate Centre for the Third Pole (Himalayan) region during the next five years for weather and climate service up-gradation in the Himalayan region and high mountain ranges through impact-based forecasting and risk-based warning, sectoral applications and research and development.

In North East India, long-term, dense and reliable daily rainfall data from IMD is infrequent due to remoteness of the region with low population density, extended periods of regional conflicts and environmental disasters and change in location of the observatories in some stations within the same locality resulting in fragmented or inconsistent data series.

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The world’s wettest place in North East India is witnessing a decline in rainfall (2)

“Further, in the handwritten records, we observed human error occurring during the process of observation, and in the recording,” shared Mahanta. Changes in the surrounding environment also contribute to the errors in the existing dataset.

Mahanta and colleagues mined data from meticulous meteorological records under the British colonial administration from the second half of the 19th-century, handwritten rainfall records from tea garden archives dating back to the second half of the 1800s and Jesuit missionary records in the region. They observed a declining trend in rainfall principally linked to natural variability.

“This new dataset comprises daily rainfall time series over 24 well-distributed stations that have operated in North East India for 90-years (1920 to 2009) which will be extended to 100 years shortly,” said Mahanta. “While the reconstructed time series have few data gaps, every effort has been made to fill in these gaps, to improve assessments of the long-term changes in rainfall variability in the region.”

A better understanding of the physical mechanisms of the North East India’s rainfall variability is crucial for developing advanced projections of future rainfall variability.

“Hence a reliable estimate of the trend and/or multi-decadal variability of mean rainfall over the North East India and that of the extreme events are critical for delineating the impact of climate change over the region,” added Mahanta. “Consequently, the existing rainfall distribution patterns over North East India have either been significantly oversimplified or inaccurately examined and that tends to ignore the actual rainfall gradients.”

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This article first appeared on Mongabay.

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  • Monsoon
  • India
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FAQs

The world’s wettest place in North East India is witnessing a decline in rainfall? ›

World's wettest place in North East India is witnessing a decline in rainfall. Context: According to a study, Mawsynram(Meghalaya) become the wettest place in the World. It has replaced Cherrapunji

Cherrapunji
Cherrapunji (/ˌtʃɛrəˈpʌndʒi, -ˈpʊn-/ ( listen)) or Sohra is a subdivisional town (Proposed District) East Khasi Hills district in the Indian state of Meghalaya. It is the traditional capital of ka hima Sohra (Khasi tribal kingdom).
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Cherrapunji
(Meghalaya) from the top spot. Mawsynram receives over 10,000 MM of rain in a year.

Which type of rainfall is causes in Northeast India? ›

The region has a monsoon climate with heavy to very heavy rains, confined within four summer months from June to September. The southwest monsoon is the main source of rain, and June is the rainiest month.

Which is the wettest place in India? ›

Meghalaya's Mawsynram, India's Wettest Place, Sees Record Rainfall.

Which is the world's wettest place? ›

The wettest place in the world, Mawsynram, India just recorded a mind boggling 39.51 inches (1003.6 mm) of rain in the last 24 hours. These are what the waterfalls in the area look like.

Which is wettest place in North India? ›

Mawsynram
Mawsynram Location in Meghalaya, India Show map of Meghalaya Show map of India Show all
Coordinates:25.28°N 91.35°E
CountryIndia
StateMeghalaya
13 more rows

What is the climate of Northeast India Class 7? ›

Rajasthan receives very little rainfall, so it is dry, Thus, the climate of Rajasthan is hot and dry This is the typical desert climate. The North-East India (like Assam) receives rain for a major part of the year, therefore, we can say that the climate of North-East India is wet.

Why is it raining so much in northeast? ›

In view of that, southwesterly streams are strengthening directly into the northeastern parts, which is what is causing these rainfall activities over Northeast India. Heavy to very heavy rains are expected over Northeast India. Most intense rains are likely over Assam and Meghalaya.

Which is the top three wettest place in India? ›

Best 7 Places With Highest Rainfall In India
  • Mawsynram.
  • Cherrapunji.
  • Agumbe.
  • Mahabaleshwar.
  • Pasighat.
  • Amboli.
  • Gangtok.
Nov 10, 2021

Which is the wettest place in India Class 9? ›

Complete answer:

Mawsynram lies in Meghalaya state in northeastern India. It is a town in the East Khasi Hills and lies 60.9 kilometres from Shillong. Mawsynram receives the highest rainfall in India. With an average annual rainfall of 11,872 millimetres, It is considered to be the wettest place on Earth.

Which place has the lowest rainfall in India? ›

Ruyli located in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan is known to receive the lowest amount of rainfall measuring only 8.3 cms annually. Was this answer helpful?

Which place receives the highest rainfall in the world class 9? ›

Mawsynram is a place that receives the highest average rainfall in the world. This place is located in Meghalaya. It receives the majority of its rainfall from the Bay of Bengal branch of the Indian monsoon.

Where is highest rainfall in world? ›

Cherrapunji, India, now holds the world record for two-day (48-hour) rainfall, with 2 493 millimeters (98.15 inches) recorded on 15–16 June 1995.

Which country has the most rainfall? ›

Colombia

Is Cherrapunji the wettest place in India? ›

Crowned as the wettest place on earth, the village of Mawsynram is a nature lover's dream and the best place to witness the fury of the rains. With 11,872 mm of rainfall received annually, Mawsynram beats Cherrapunji by a slender margin. Cherrapunji receives 11,777 mm of rainfall.

Which are the wettest places in India answer in one sentence? ›

Mawsynram is considered as the wettest place in India with a record of around 10-12 meters of rainfall on an annual basis. It is located on the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya and is surrounded by hills on three sides attracting numerous tourists from all over the world yearly.

Which state is known as Seven Sisters? ›

The Seven Sister States is a popular term for the contiguous states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura prior to inclusion of the state of Sikkim into the North Eastern Region of India.

What is humidity Class 7? ›

The correct option is A The amount of water vapour in the air. Humidity is the amount of water vapour present in the air.

What type of climate is found in north-East of India? ›

Lying very close to the Tropics, North-East India displays, to a large extent, the character of tropical climate, especially in the valleys. The region has a monsoon climate with heavy to very heavy rains, confined within four summer months from June to September.

What are the two causes of heavy rainfall in Northeast India? ›

First, the northward shift of monsoon trough that runs from north Punjab to northwest Bay of Bengal. Monsoon rains are generally clustered around such troughs. Second, the coming together of strong winds from the south and southwest directions carrying moisture from the Bay of Bengal.

Why does the rainfall decrease in the east as compared to west in the northern India? ›

The Bay of Bengal branch of the monsoon winds moves towards northeast and return westwards covering the northern plains. While they move towards west their moisture contains tends to reduce with subsequent rains. Hence the rainfall decreases from east to west in northern India.

What are the factors that affect the climate of Northeast India? ›

Northeast India has a subtropical climate that is influenced by its relief and also affects from the southwest and northeast monsoons. The Himalayas to the north, the Meghalaya plateau to the south and capitals of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur to the east influences the climate.

Which place receives the highest rainfall in India Class 9? ›

The place that receives the highest rainfall in the country is Mawsynram.

Where is highest rainfall in India? ›

"Mawsynram is at present the wettest place in India, with an average annual rainfall of 11802.4 mm (average of the 1974-2022 period). Cherrapunji receives 11359.4 mm of rainfall in a year (average of the 1971-2020 period)," Das said.

Which region of India receives most of its rainfall in winter class 9? ›

Kerela and Tamil Nadu are the parts of India which recieve winter rainfall because these are the coastal regions found in the South which is affected by Western disturbances.

Which is the highest and lowest rainfall in India? ›

Note: Mawsynram , in east Khasi hills of Meghalaya, receives the highest rainfall in India. On the other hand, places like Jaiselmar and Leh receive the lowest rainfall in India. These places receive less than 50cm rainfall every year.

Where is the lowest rainfall in the world? ›

The lowest recorded rainfall in the world occurred at Arica, a port city in northern Chile. An annual average, taken over a 43-year period, was only 0.5 mm (0.02 inch).

Which state receives the least rainfall in India? ›

Complete answer:

Jaisalmer district located in the state of Rajasthan has the lowest annual rainfall in India.

Which one of the following place receives the highest rainfall in the world Mcq? ›

Currently, Mawsynram holds the record of receives the maximum rainfall on earth. Mawsynram is in Meghalaya. Mawsynram is said to receive 11,871 mm rainfall annually.

Which branch causes heavy rainfall in the North eastern part of India? ›

THE ARABIAN SEA BRANCH OF THE MONSOON CAUSES RAINFALL IN THE WESTERN GHAT, MUMBAI, GUJARAT AND CENTRAL INDIA. THE BAY OF BENGAL BRANCH OF THE MONSOON CAUSES RAINFALL IN NORTH-EAST INDIA AND THE GANGA PLAIN.

What is the main cause of monsoon? ›

The primary cause of monsoons is the difference between annual temperature trends over land and sea. The apparent position of the Sun with reference to the Earth oscillates from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. Thus the low pressure region created by solar heating also changes latitude.

Why does rainfall decrease from east to west in northern India? ›

The Bay of Bengal branch of the monsoon winds moves towards northeast and return westwards covering the northern plains. While they move towards west their moisture contains tends to reduce with subsequent rains. Hence the rainfall decreases from east to west in northern India.

Why does North Western India get winter rainfall? ›

Western disturbances, specifically the ones in winter, bring moderate to heavy rain in low-lying areas and heavy snow to mountainous areas of the Indian Subcontinent. They are the cause of most winter and pre-monsoon season rainfall across northwest India.

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