Climate models fail to predict monsoon patterns

by William Yeatman on June 22, 2004

in Science

A recent study in the April edition of Quaternary Science Reviews found that Indian Ocean monsoon patterns do not follow the variations predicted by global climate models.  In fact, the Indian Ocean monsoon rainfall patterns elicited the exact opposite variations predicted by the models.

Traditionally, climate models predict that a rise in the Earths temperature coincides with a significant increase in the rainfall patterns in the Indian Ocean area.  However, the study found that Indian Ocean monsoon rainfall has not only declined dramatically during the recent global temperature increase, but also declined during past periods of warming. 

By developing high-resolution stable isotope records from three contemporaneously-deposited stalagmites located in a shallow cave in Southern Oman, the research team, led by Dominik Fleitmann of the Institute of Geological Sciences at the University of Bern, examined the rainfall patterns in the region over the past 780 years.  They found that throughout the past eight centuries the relationship between monsoon rainfall and climate contradicted the results of global climate prediction models.

The researchers specifically pointed to a major temperature spike that began in the early 1400s as further evidence.  The abrupt warming (and following cooling period) created an initial decline in rainfall followed by a subsequent increase.  A review of this report can be found on

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