Technically, the term monsoon is used to refer to the blowing of winds between the ocean and land, and the heavy rains that are associated with these winds.
The winds blow in opposite directions in different seasons due to the reversed changes in the temperatures of the ocean and land. South Asia is characterized with extensive land which teams up with the massive water area covered by the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea to form the Asian Monsoon. This monsoon is very strong and has adverse effects on climate in this area (Parker, 2007, p. 1). In this paper, we discuss the causes of the South Asian monsoons and explore their effects on the climate of this region.
There exists substantial controversy over the formation of monsoons but one thing is for sure; air pressure is a factor. With the above fact, therefore, the most plausible explanation to the formation of monsoons in South Asia is that pressure imbalances between the Indian Ocean and the Asian continent are the contributing factors (Arlblaster, 2010, p. 1).
That is, in summer, the air covering the Indian Ocean has a high pressure while that covering Asia has low pressure leading to the movement of air masses from the high pressured zone to the low pressured one i.e. movement of air masses from the ocean to land.
Since the air covering the Indian Ocean is moist during summer, South Asia receives moist air from this phenomenon. In the same way, during winter the pressure imbalance is reversed and thus the Indian Ocean is the one that is lowly pressured while the air over Tibetan Plateau is highly pressured and thus air moves from South of India and down the Himalayas towards the Indian Ocean. The monsoons are, therefore, cyclic and they consist of both onshore and offshore winds. From the explanation above, it is apparent that the monsoon is parallel to convectional currents. Convectional currents can therefore be described as miniature monsoons (Rao, 1992, p. 34). The convectional currents are characterized by movement of air currents between the ocean and land due to the different heating and cooling rates of the two.
Other factors that contribute to the formation of monsoons are the westerlies and the trade winds that blow across South Asia (Parker, 2007, p. 1). Geographers have been increasingly worried about the effect of the monsoons on climatic conditions. Most of them describe the monsoonal climate with one word; violent. This is used to describe the effects of the heavy monsoonal rains on the South Asian climate which is characterized by destructive floods, irregular rainfall changes, occasional extreme temperatures, storms and extensive erosion. The irregular climate experienced in this region is a great challenge to agricultural activities in this area and therefore agronomists and planners constantly watch the weather to predict planting dates. Sometimes rains delay making farmers to either fail to sow seeds or plant few seeds. Mostly, the rains come with great intensity accompanied by strong winds and they therefore destroy young plants and property.
On the other hand, it is only recently that the people living in Monsoon Asia have been able to curb the effects of drought in this region. The monsoon climate has had adverse effects on the portion of the South Asian population occupying drought prone areas face extended periods of drought and famine in the recent past (Arlblaster, 2010, p. 1). Approximately 50% of the world’s total populations are affected by the climate patterns that are caused by South Asian Monsoons (Arlblaster, 2010, p.
1). Most of these people are subsistence farmers and therefore adverse monsoonal climate changes have a great affect on their livelihoods. Excess or insufficient monsoonal rain could therefore translate to famine or flood in a number of regions depending entirely on the monsoonal climate for agriculture. Wet monsoons occurring in June are very significant to India and Bangladesh, giving virtually all the water used in India. The monsoon rains also lead to waterborne diseases which affect the Indian population adversely. Children fail to attend classes while recovering from diseases like cholera, diarrhea and typhoid.
The rains sometimes lead to flooding which kills people and displaces them, submerges infrastructure and halts businesses (Parker, 2007, p. 1). The South Asian monsoons have evidently influenced climate in this region.
They are responsible for rains and substantial changes in temperature that occur in this region. Additionally, storms have been repeatedly experienced in this area; courtesy of the monsoon winds. As earlier stated, these climatic influenced have had tremendous effects on the livelihoods of the inhabitants of South Asia.
Despite the negative effects that the monsoons in South Asia have had on the South Asian population, there are a number of benefits that come with them (Parker, 2007, p. 1). The monsoons are responsible for a good percentage of the rainfall experienced in the region and the floods associated with extended periods of rainfall fertilize the South Asian land.
Arlblaster, J. (2010). The Asian Monsoon.
Retrieved May 8, 2010, from,http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/features/understanding/monsoon.
shtml Parker, J. (2007). What is the South Asia Monsoon? Retrieved May 8, 2010, from,http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6929988.stm Rao, S. (1992).
The physics of monsoons. New York. Barnes & Noble.