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The evolution, seasonality and impacts of western disturbances

Western disturbances (WDs) are upper-level synoptic-scale systems embedded in the subtropical westerly jet stream (STWJ), often associated with extreme rainfall events in north India and Pakistan during boreal winter. Here, a tracking algorithm is applied to the upper-tropospheric vorticity field for 37 years of ERA-Interim reanalysis data, giving a catalogue of over 3000 events. These events are analysed in a composite framework: the vertical structure is explored across a large number of dynamic and thermodynamic fields, revealing a significant northwestward tilt with height, strong ascent ahead of the centre, which sits above the maximum surface precipitation, and a warm-over-cold, dry-over-moist structure, among other signatures of strong baroclinicity.

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