- Weather is the momentary state of the atmosphere while climate refers to the average of the weather conditions over a longer period of time. Weather changes quickly, may be within a day or week but climate changes imperceptively and may be noted after 50 years or even more
- Monsoon connotes the climate associated with seasonal reversal in the direction of winds. India has hot monsoonal climate which is the prevalent climate in south and southeast Asia.
FACTORS DETERMINING THE CLIMATE OF INDIA
can be broadly divided into two groups factors related to location and relief, and factors related to air pressure and winds.
Factors related to Location and Relief-
1-Latitude - Northern part of the India lies in sub-tropical and temperate zone and the part lying south of the Tropic of Cancer falls in the tropical zone. The tropical zone being nearer to the equator, experiences high temperatures throughout the year with small daily and annual range. Area north of the Tropic of Cancer being away from the equator experiences extreme climate with high daily and annual range of temperature.
2-The Himalayan Mountains : The lofty Himalayas in the north along with its extensions act as an effective climatic divide. The towering mountain chain provides an invincible shield to protect the
subcontinent from the cold northern winds. The Himalayas also trap the monsoon winds, forcing them to shed air pressure causes reversal in the direction of monsoon winds.
3- Distance from the Sea : With a long coastline, large coastal areas have an equable climate.
Areas in the interior of India are far away from the moderating influence of the sea. Such areas have extremes of climate their moisture within the subcontinent
4- Distribution of Land and Water : India is flanked by the Indian Ocean on three sides in the south and girdled by a high and continuous mountain-wall in the north. As compared to the landmass, water heats up or cools down slowly. This differential heating of land and sea creates different air pressure zones in different seasons in and around the Indian subcontinent. Difference in
5-Altitude : Temperature decreases with height. Due to thin air, places in the mountains are cooler than places on the plains.
6- Relief : The physiography or relief of India also affects the temperature, air pressure, direction and speed of wind and the amount and distribution of rainfall. The windward sides of Western Ghats and Assam receive high rainfall during June-September whereas the southern plateau remains dry due to its leeward situation along the Western Ghats.
Factors Related to Air Pressure and Wind
- Distribution of air pressure and winds on the surface of the earth
- Upper air circulation caused by factors controlling global weather and the inflow of different air masses and jet streams
- Inflow of western cyclones generally known as disturbances during the winter season and tropical depressions during the south-west monsoon period into India, creating weather conditions favourable to rainfall.
Mechanism of Weather in the Winter Season
- Surface Pressure and Winds : In winter months, the weather conditions over India are generally influenced by the distribution of pressure in Central and Western Asia. A high pressure centre in the region lying to the north of the Himalayas develops during winter. This centre of high pressure gives rise to the flow of air at the low level from the north towards the Indian subcontinent, south of the mountain range. The surface winds blowing out of the high pressure centre over Central Asia reach India in the form of a dry continental air mass. These continental winds come in contact with trade winds over northwestern India.
- Jet Stream and Upper Air Circulation : Higher up in the lower troposphere, about three km above the surface of the earth, a different pattern of air circulation is observed.
- The variations in the atmospheric pressure closer to the surface of the earth have no role to play in the making of upper air circulation.
- All of Western and Central Asia remains under the influence of westerly winds along the altitude of 9-13 km from west to east. These winds blow across the Asian continent at latitudes north of the Himalayas roughly parallel to the Tibetan highlands. These are known as jet streams. branch blows in an eastward direction, south of the Himalayas. It has its mean position at 25°N in February at 200-300 mb level. It is believed that this southern branch of the jet stream exercises an important influence on the winter weather in India.
Direction of Winds in India in Winter at the Height of 9-13 km
- Western Cyclonic Disturbance and Tropical Cyclones : The western cyclonic disturbances which enter the Indian subcontinent from the west and the northwest during the winter months, originate over the Mediterranean Sea and are brought into India by the westerly jet stream. An increase in the prevailing night temperature generally indicates an advance in the arrival of these cyclones disturbances. Tropical cyclones originate over the Bay of Bengal and the Indian ocean. These tropical cyclones have very high wind velocity and heavy rainfall and hit the Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa coast. Most of these cyclones are very destructive due to high wind velocity and torrential rain that accompanies.
Mechanism of Weatherinthe Summer Season
- Surface Pressure and Winds : As the summer sets in and the sun shifts northwards, the wind circulation over the subcontinent undergoes a complete reversal at both, the lower as well as the upper levels. By the middle of July, the low pressure belt nearer the surface [termed as Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)] shifts northwards, By this time, the westerly jet stream withdraws from the Indian region.
- It is generally believed that there is a cause and effect relationship between the ictz and jet stream . The ITCZ being a zone of low pressure, attracts inflow of winds from different directions. The maritime tropical airmass (mT) from the southern hemisphere, after crossing the equator, rushes to the low pressure area in the general southwesterly direction. It is this moist air current which is popularly known as the southwest monsoon.
- Jet Streams and Upper Air Circulation :. An easterly jet stream flows over the southern part of the Peninsula in June, and has a maximum speed of 90 km per hour. In August, it is confined to 15oN latitude, and in September up to 22o N latitudes. The easterlies normally do not extend to the north of 30o N latitude in the upper atmosphere.
- Easterly Jet Stream and Tropical Cyclones : The easterly jet stream steers the tropical depressions into India. These depressions play a significant role in the distribution of monsoon rainfall over the Indian subcontinent. The tracks of these depressions are the areas of highest rainfall in India. The frequency at which these depressions visit India, their direction and intensity, all go a long way in determining the rainfall pattern during the southwest monsoon period.
The Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
- a low pressure zone located at the equator where trade winds converge, and so, it is a zone where air tends to ascend.
- In July, the ITCZ is located around 20°N-25°N latitudes (over the Gangetic plain), sometimes called the monsoon trough.
- This monsoon trough encourages the development of thermal low over north and northwest India.
- Due to the shift of ITCZ, the trade winds of the southern hemisphere cross the equator between 40° and 60°E longitudes and start blowing from southwest to northeast due to the Coriolis force. It becomes southwest monsoon.
- In winter, the ITCZ moves southward, and so the reversal of winds from northeast to south and southwest, takes place. They are called northeast monsoons.
THE NATURE OF INDIAN Monsoon
Onset of the Monsoon
- During April and May when the sun shines vertically over the Tropic of Cancer, the large landmass in the north of Indian ocean gets intensely heated. This causes the formation of an intense low pressure in the northwestern part of the subcontinent.
- Since the pressure in the Indian Ocean in the south of the landmass is high as water gets heated slowly, the low pressure cell attracts the southeast trades across the Equator.
- These conditions help in the northward shift in the position of the ITCZ. The southwest monsoon may thus, be seen as a continuation of the southeast trades deflected towards the Indian subcontinent after crossing the Equator. These winds cross the Equator between 40°E and 60°E longitudes.
- Entry of Monsoon into India : The southwest monsoon sets in over the Kerala coast
Rain-bearing Systems and Rainfall Distribution
There seem to be two rain-bearing systems in India.
1-in the Bay of Bengal causing rainfall over the plains of north India.
2- the Arabian Sea current of the south- west monsoon which brings rain to the west coast of India. Much of the rainfall along the Western Ghats is orographic as the moist air is obstructed and forced to rise along the Ghats. The intensity of rainfall over the west coast of India is, however, related to two factors:
- The offshore meteorological conditions.
- The position of the equatorial jet stream along the eastern coast of Africa.
EI-Nino and the Indian Monsoon
EI-Nino is a complex weather system that appears once every three to seven years, bringing drought, floods and other weather extremes to different parts of the world.
The system involves oceanic and atmospheric phenomena with the appearance of warm currents off the coast of Peru in the Eastern Pacific and affects weather in many places including India.
EI-Nino is merely an extension of the warm equatorial current which gets replaced temporarily by cold Peruvian current or Humbolt current (locate these currents in your atlas). This current increases the temperature of water on the Peruvian coast by 10°C. This results in:
(i) the distortion of equatorial atmospheric circulation;
(ii) irregularities in the evaporation of sea water;
(iii) reduction in the amount of planktons which further reduces the number of fish in the sea.
The word EI-Nino means ‘Child Christ’ because this current appears around Christmas in December. December is a summer month in Peru (Southern Hemisphere).
EI-Nino is used in India for forecasting long range monsoon rainfall. In 1990-91, there was a wild EI-Nino event and the onset of southwest monsoon was delayed over most parts of the country ranging from five to twelve days.
Break in the Monsoon
During the south-west monsoon period after having rains for a few days, if rain fails to occur for one or more weeks, it is known as break in the monsoon. These dry spells are quite common during the rainy season. These breaks in the different regions are due to different reasons:
(i) In northern India rains are likely to fail if the rain-bearing storms are not very frequent along the monsoon trough or the ITCZ over this region.
(ii) Over the west coast the dry spells are associated with days when winds blow parallel to the coast.
THE RHYTHM OF SEASONS
The climatic conditions of India can best be described in terms of an annual cycle of seasons. four seasons :
(i) the cold weather season
(ii) the hot weather season
(iii) the southwest monsoon season
(iv) the retreating monsoon season