We have all heard someone talk about monsoons or seen them on the television news. However, those who live near the tropical belt have done much more than hear about them: they are very likely to live them regularly. Many times the term monsoon is used incorrectly to refer to torrential rains, but this atmospheric phenomenon is much more than a rain of great volume and force.
If you want to know more about what monsoons are, their types and consequences , continue reading this interesting AgroCorrn article to discover everything about this atmospheric phenomenon.
What are monsoons
A monsoon is basically a seasonal wind . The monsoon winds are caused by the displacement of the tropical rain belt . The monsoon always flows from the cold regions to the warmer ones, causing drastic changes in the climate. Its stationary character is evident in the etymology of the word, as it derives from mausim, which in Arabic means season.
When we talk about monsoons, we refer mainly to those that occur in South Asia and the Indian Ocean, although they also occur in other areas with a tropical monsoon climate or monsoon climate . One of the most well-known consequences of monsoons is the torrential rains that summer monsoons usually bring, but they are not the only ones and, in fact, not all monsoons involve heavy rainfall. Later we will talk about the main characteristics of monsoons according to their two main types.
How the monsoons form
Both the land and the sea have the ability to absorb heat from the sun. However, their physical properties are different: while sea water retains temperature for longer, land heats up and cools much faster.
When the temperature difference between land and sea is large, a pressure difference is created that ends up leading to the winds and rainfall associated with the monsoon.
Types of monsoons and their characteristics
Now that you know better what monsoons are , let’s delve into the types of monsoons and their characteristics . There is not a single monsoon season , if not two, that give rise to the two types of monsoons that exist: the summer and the winter.
In the summer months, with the land warming faster than the sea, the difference in pressure causes the ocean breeze, which is at a lower temperature, to blow towards the land.
This causes the warm air of the land to be loaded with the humidity that brings the oceanic breeze. This rises to a great height causing a local depression. The air then cools rapidly over the land itself instead of returning to the ocean, and discharges its precipitation right there, while the ocean breeze continues to bring in moist air and fuel the cycle.
This monsoon tends to start in India between March and June, and to end between September and November. Its dates vary depending on the specific climatic circumstances of each season, which can make it more or less severe in some years, and even interrupt it.
The winter monsoon occurs much like the summer monsoon, but in a reverse process. The land surface cools faster than ocean water, and this time the wind blows from the mainland to the sea. The rains, therefore, occur in this case over the ocean, which tends to cause dry seasons on the mainland, although this characteristic is not always fulfilled.
The dry monsoon occurs in Asia approximately between October and April, and thanks to the influence of the Himalayas, its effects are less powerful than those of the summer monsoon.
Places where there are monsoons
As we have said, the main monsoons occur in Asia, specifically in the Indian Ocean, but they are not the only ones. These are some of the places where there are monsoons :
- The Asian monsoon affects areas further north, to countries such as China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. In addition, the Asian-Australian monsoon also occurs, covering from the northern part of Australia to the Russian coast of the Pacific Ocean.
- In Africa there is the monsoon of Western Sub-Saharan Africa , given by the system that the Sahara and the Atlantic Ocean create when they meet.
- In North America , the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf of California winds cause a monsoon that begins in Mexico and then moves north through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Consequences of the monsoons
In summary, these are the main consequences of the monsoons , both good and bad:
- India and much of Southeast Asia benefit greatly from the summer monsoon , on which they depend heavily economically. Their agriculture and livestock , based on products such as cotton or rice, which are highly dependent on water, need these large rainfalls to develop properly.
- The increase in rainfall also causes a large contribution of energy from hydroelectric plants, and the high humidity makes forest fires difficult.
- But monsoons also have damaging effects, such as large floods and also large landslides that often cause extensive damage to populations and crops.
- In addition, a weak monsoon will not bring enough rain for the plantations to produce a good harvest or provide an abundance of pasture for livestock, thus causing economic losses.