THE INDIAN MONSOON
Written by Samuel Tareas, liver of life and drinker of fine coffee
From the Arabic base 'mausam', also the word for weather in several Indian languages, a monsoon is typically called the rainy season and is pretty much that: rain and prevailing winds for an extended period of time, sometimes up to several months. Although monsoons can occur worldwide, North America and Africa alike, the Indian monsoon is perhaps the most famous. We all know that warm air reaching hot air creates torment in the air and this is no different for a monsoon. From June to September are the Summer Monsoons. During the immensely hot summer, the Thar desert (Great Indian Desert) and its adjoining lands heat up dramatically, causing low pressure over central and northern India. To fill the low pressure, moisture-rich winds from the Indian Ocean descend into the subcontinent, being drawn towards the Himalayan mountain range, which act as a huge and impenetrable barrier, preventing the winds from passing to Central Asia, pushing them higher. Logically, a higher altitude means a lower temperature and thus precipitation occurs in the dense cloud mass. The rains begin and some regions receive 10,000mm of rain in the period.
The Retreating Monsoon occurs around September time as the sun is moving south, the landmass of the subcontinent that is India cools rapidly and thus the air pressure above India builds. Due to the Indian ocean still holding its heat, cold air sweeps down from the Himalayas and the Indo-Gangetic Plain (vast and fertile plain covering north and eastern India) towards the Indian Ocean picking up moisture from the Bay of Bengal and raining it over India.
Monsoons in India are celebrated, traditional and welcomed. Actually welcomed is an understatement. Agriculture is intrinsic to India´s economy, accounting for 25% of GDP and with 70% of India´s population finding employment in this sector.
Therefore, the monsoon equating 80% of India´s total rainfall, is not just a factor holding the economy together, it is a relief for everyone in the country.