A colorful, data-driven view into how monsoons work.
When you hear the word “monsoon,” images of floods and torrential rains may come to mind. But monsoons can also include intense periods of dryness. A monsoon is a seasonal change in wind and rain patterns observed in certain parts of the world. The changes are driven by seasonal shifts in the temperature differences between the ocean and land. Across the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, the summer and winter monsoons dominate the region’s climate. Between April and September, warm land temperatures drive pressure patterns and winds that draw in moist air from the Indian Ocean, producing heavy rainfall. During the winter months, the winds move in the opposite direction, blowing cool air over land toward the ocean, leading to very dry conditions. Using computer models and data collected by satellites, scientists are able to study monsoon cycles in great detail and monitor their impacts on humans and the environment. Watch the video for a tour of Earth's monsoon regions.