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.

The concept of an interannually varying Indian summer monsoon season is introduced here, considering that the duration of the primary driving of the Indian monsoon - the large-scale meridional gradient of the deep tropospheric heat source - may vary from one year to another. Onset (withdrawal) is defined as the day when the tropospheric heat source shifts from south to north (north to south).