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The North-East Monsoon

Date: 04 January 2020 Tags: Geography & Environment


The northeast, or winter, monsoon has ended on a high, with an overall surplus rainfall being recorded for the season.



This year witnessed the rare meteorological coincidence of the northeast (winter) monsoon making its onset on the same day as the southwest monsoon withdrew officially.



The two events rarely happen simultaneously, although the three-month winter monsoon season is supposed to begin almost immediately after the end of the June-September summer monsoon season.



  • Attracted by a low-pressure region centred over South Asia, the mass spawns surface winds that ferry humid air into India from the southwest.

  • These inflows ultimately result from a northward shift of the local jet stream, which itself results from rising summer temperatures over Tibet and the Indian subcontinent.

  • The void left by the jet stream, which switches from a route just south of the Himalayas to one tracking north of Tibet, then attracts warm, humid air.

  • India actually has two monsoons,  the southwest monsoon and the northeast monsoon.

  • The southwest monsoon, which is the main monsoon, comes in from the sea and starts making its way up India’s west coast in early June. By mid-July, most of the country is covered in rain.

  • This gradually starts clearing from most places in northwest India by October and this indicates onset of north-west monsoon.

  • The southwest monsoon arrives in two branches: the Bay of Bengal branch and the Arabian Sea branch. The latter extends towards a low-pressure area over the Thar Desert and is roughly three times stronger than the Bay of Bengal branch.

North-East Monsoon

  • The northeast monsoon affects India’s east coast during November and December. It’s a short but intense monsoon.

  • However, for some regions of South India, it is the winter monsoon that is much more important. Though much less heard of, especially in the north of the country, the northeast monsoon is as permanent a feature of the Indian subcontinent’s climate system as the summer monsoon

  • During this period, rainfall is experienced over Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh, along with some parts of Telangana and Karnataka.

The North-East Monsoon 1

South-West Monsoon

  • South West monsoon is the rain bearing seasonal winds that flow from Arabian Sea to the main land of India from the South-West direction.

  • Because the southwest monsoon flows from sea to land, it carries more moisture, and therefore causes more rain, than the northeast monsoon.

The North-East Monsoon 2

Importance of Monsoon in India

  • The monsoon is the primary delivery mechanism for fresh water in the Indian subcontinent. As such, it affects the environment (and associated flora, fauna, and ecosystems), agriculture, society, hydro-power production, and geography of the subcontinent (like the availability of fresh water in water bodies and the underground water table), with all of these factors cumulatively contributing to the health of the economy of affected countries.

  • The monsoon turns large parts of India from semi-deserts into green grasslands. Any fluctuations in the time distribution, spatial distribution, or quantity of the monsoon rains may lead to floods or droughts, causing the agricultural sector to suffer.

  • This has a cascading effect on the secondary economic sectors, the overall economy, food inflation, and therefore the general population's quality and cost of living.

  • A good monsoon results in better agricultural yields, which brings down prices of essential food commodities and reduces imports, thus reducing food inflation overall. Better rains also result in increased hydroelectric production. All of these factors have positive ripple effects throughout the economy of India.

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