The Indian Monsoon and Its Variability

Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Vol. 31:429-467 (Volume publication date May 2003)


AbstractFor over 300 years, the monsoon has been viewed as a gigantic land-sea breeze. It is shown in this paper that satellite and conventional observations support an alternative hypothesis, which considers the monsoon as a manifestation of seasonal migration of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). With the focus on the Indian monsoon, the mean seasonal pattern is described, and why it is difficult to simulate it is discussed. Some facets of the intraseasonal variation, such as active-weak cycles; break monsoon; and a special feature of intraseasonal variation over the region, namely, poleward propagations of the ITCZ at intervals of 2–6 weeks, are considered. Vertical moist stability is shown to be a key parameter in the variation of monthly convection over ocean and land as well as poleward propagations. Special features of the Bay of Bengal and the monsoon brought out by observations during a national observational experiment in 1999 are briefly described.