Cause and Effects of Monsoons
When most people think of a monsoon they see images of torrential downpours and extreme flooding that lasts for weeks on end. However, monsoons are not giant rain storms. In reality a monsoon is the seasonal reversal of the prevailing winds (Hess, 2011). In fact the word monsoon is derived from the Arabic word Mawsim which means “season” (Hess, 2011). Understanding how monsoons work is very important. Monsoons effect over half of the world’s population each year and are both beneficial and harmful (Hess, 2011). The principal monsoon areas are, South and East Asia, Northern Australia and West Africa. Central America and the South-eastern United States also show monsoon tendencies. Monsoons are the result of deviations in the pattern of general circulation. During the summer months the winds move is a sea-to-land movement called Onshore Flow and during the winter the winds move in a land-to-sea movement called Offshore Flow (Hess, 2011). Because of this pattern during the summer months the Onshore Flow bring large amounts of moisture to the land. During the winter the exact opposite happens and the Offshore Flow moves dry air over the land towards to ocean causing very dry condition that can lead to droughts in some areas(Hess, 2011)(“Effects of monsoons,” 2003). There are two major monsoon systems, South Asia and East Asia. The South Asia monsoon is characterized by a very strong onshore flow during the summer and a less pronounced offshore flow during the winter months. The exact opposite is true for East Asia with a strong offshore flow in the winter and a weaker onshore flow during the summer. Outside of the Major systems there are two minor systems, West Africa and the northern part of Australia. Central America and the South-eastern United States can also show monsoon tendencies, but are not classified into a monsoon system (Hess, 2011). The most prominent Monsoon system is the system over South Asia, in the...
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