Monsoon (Encyclopedia of Science)
A monsoon is a seasonal change in the direction of the prevailing wind. This wind shift typically brings about a marked change in local weather. Monsoons are often associated with rainy seasons in the tropics (the areas of Earth within 23.5 degrees latitude of the equator) and the subtropics (areas between 23.5 and about 35 degrees latitude, both north and south). In these areas, life is critically dependent on the monsoon rains. A weak monsoon rainy season may cause drought, crop failures, and hardship for people and wildlife. However, heavy monsoon rains have caused massive floods that have killed thousands of people.
Many parts of the world experience monsoons to some extent. Probably the most famous are the Asian monsoons, which affect India, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Monsoons also impact portions of central Africa, where their rain is critical to supporting life in the area south of the Sahara Desert. Lesser monsoon circulations affect parts of the southwestern United States. These summer rainy periods bring much needed rain to the dry plateaus of Arizona and New Mexico.
General monsoon circulation
Monsoons, like most other winds, occur in response to the Sun heating the atmosphere. In their simplest form, monsoons are caused by differences in temperatures between the oceans and continents. They are most likely to form where a...
(The entire section is 1117 words.)
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