It may seem that the weather is getting more extreme every year. Each summer, countries are engulfed by record high temperatures, extreme droughts and severe thunderstorms.
This extends into autumn and winter with dangerous hurricanes and snowstorms that leave people injured and dead at worst.
While extreme weather is on the rise and poses a serious threat to people’s safety, there are also many weather events that occur each year, such as the monsoons.
But what are monsoons and where do they occur? We have the answers.
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What is monsoon?
According to Live Science, the word “monsoon” comes from the Arabic word “mawsim”, which means season. Unlike single heavy downpours, monsoons are seasonal wind shear over a region that can bring heavy rain or drought.
According to National Geographic, the Indian Ocean-related monsoon blows from cold to warm regions, and the summer and winter monsoons affect the climate of much of India and Southeast Asia.
The summer monsoons are generally wet and occur from April to September. These monsoons bring warm, moist air from the southwest Indian Ocean to India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. Summer monsoons typically bring heavy rains and a humid climate to these regions.
The winter monsoons occur from October to April and are less strong than the summer monsoons. Although the winter monsoons are associated with drought, they are not always dry. While the eastern Pacific coast of Southeast Asia has a rainy season, the western part of Southeast Asia has a dry season.
During the winter monsoons, moisture and wind from the coast are blocked by the Himalayas. It also prevents cold air from entering southern India and Sri Lanka, keeping them warm, according to National Geographic.
In the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, there is also a phenomenon called the North American monsoon. Like the monsoons in Southeast Asia, the North American monsoon is a seasonal shift in atmospheric circulation that occurs when summer heat heats up land, according to Climate.gov.
The monsoons in the US have helped relieve drought in the Southwest, but have also led to dangerous flooding.
Monsoon is a storm?
A monsoon is not a storm, but a succession of rains and winds that can cover large geographic areas. The monsoons also led to dangerous floods in India.
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Is a monsoon a hurricane? Or is it a cyclone?
No one. Monsoons are often mistakenly referred to as hurricanes or cyclones. Like hurricanes, cyclones are storms that usually form over oceans.
Hurricanes form over the Northeast Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans. Cyclones form over the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. Typhoons are another name for these types of storms, but typhoons form over the Pacific Northwest.
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How is the monsoon?
Monsoons are formed during the seasonal change in wind direction in a given region. Because they are seasonal, many people living in monsoon regions of the world depend on them for their livelihood.
Since India and Southeast Asia do not have large irrigation systems near rivers, snowmelt areas and lakes, they rely on heavy rains during the summer rainy season, according to National Geographic.
Rice and tea crops depend on summer rains, and dairy farms depend on heavy rains to feed their cows. Summer monsoons even power hydroelectric plants with water collected from heavy rains. These forces are schools, businesses and hospitals.
When the summer rainy season is late, it hurts the economies of these regions because people cannot grow crops and electricity becomes more expensive. Because of this, they are called the real Finance Minister of India.
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