Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The monsoon system: Land–sea breeze or the ITCZ?

Abstract

For well over 300 years, the monsoon has been considered to be a gigantic land–sea breeze driven by the land–ocean contrast in surface temperature. In this paper, this hypothesis and its implications for the variability of the monsoon are discussed and it is shown that the observations of monsoon variability do not support this popular theory of the monsoon. An alternative hypothesis (whose origins can be traced to Blanford’s (1886) remarkably perceptive analysis) in which the basic system responsible for the Indian summer monsoon is considered to be the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) or the equatorial trough, is then examined and shown to be consistent with the observations. The implications of considering the monsoon as a manifestation of the seasonal migration of the ITCZ for the variability of the Indian summer monsoon and for identification of the monsoonal regions of the world are briefly discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15
Fig. 16
Fig. 17
Fig. 18
Fig. 19
Fig. 20
Fig. 21
Fig. 22
Fig. 23

References

  1. Adams D K and Corie A C 1997 The North American monsoon; Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 78 2197–2213.

  2. Adler R F, Huffman G J, Chang A, Ferrar R, Xie P, Janowiak J, Rudolf B, Schneider U, Curtis S, Bolvin D, Gruber A, Susskind J and Arkin P 2003 The Version 2 Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) Monthly Precipitation Analysis (1979–Present); J. Hydrometeor. 4 1147–1167.

  3. Anjaneyulu T S S 1969 On the estimates of heat and moisture over the Indian monsoon trough zone; Tellus 21(1) 64–75.

  4. Bhat G S 2002 Near-surface variations and surface fluxes over the northern Bay of Bengal during the 1999 Indian summer monsoon; J. Geophys. Res. 107(D17) 4336, https://doi.org/10.1029/2001JD000382.

  5. Bhat G S et al. 2001 BOBMEX – The Bay of Bengal Monsoon Experiment, Bull. Am. Meteor. Soc. 82 2217–2243.

  6. Blandford H F 1886 Rainfall of India; Monsoon Monograph – India Meteorological Department, No. 3, 658.

  7. Charney J G 1969 The intertropical convergence zone and the Hadley circulation of the atmosphere; Proc. WMO/IUCG Symp. Numer. Weather Predict, Jpn. Meteorol. Agency III 73–79.

  8. Continental Tropical Convergence Zone (CTCZ) programme Science plan 2008, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, ISBN 978-81-7525-997-3.

  9. Ding Y and Sikka D R 2006 Synoptic systems and weather; In: The Asian Monsoon (ed.) Bin Wan, Springer.

  10. Gadgil Sulochana 1988 Recent advances in monsoon research with particular reference to the Indian monsoon; Aust. Meteorol. Mag. 36 193–204.

  11. Gadgil Sulochana 2003 The Indian monsoon and its variability; Ann. Rev. Earth. Planet. Sci. 31 429–467.

  12. Gadgil Sulochana and Gadgil Siddhartha 2006 The Indian monsoon, GDP and agriculture; Economic and Political Weekly XLI(47) 4887–4895.

  13. Gadgil Sulochana, Seshagiri Rao P R and Narahari Rao K 2002 Use of climate information for farm-level decision making: Rainfed groundnut in southern India; Agricultural Systems 74 431–457.

  14. Gadgil Sulochana, Rajeevan M and Francis P A 2007 Monsoon variability: Links to major oscillations over the equatorial Pacific and Indian oceans; Curr. Sci. 93(2) 182–194.

  15. Hadley 1735 G Concerning the cause of the general trade winds; Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. 34 (1735) 58–62.

  16. Halley E 1686 A historical account of the trade winds and monsoons observable in the seas between and near the tropics with an attempt to assign a physical cause of the said winds; Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London 16153–168.

  17. IPCC Climate Change 2013 The Physical Science Basis; Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (eds) Stocker T F et al., Cambridge University Press, 1535p.

  18. James I N 1994 Introduction to circulating atmospheres; Cambridge University Press.

  19. Jin Q and Wang C 2017 A revival of Indian summer monsoon rainfall since 2002; Nature Climate Change 7 587–594.

  20. Kalnay E et al. 1996 The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project; Bull. Am. Meteor. Soc. 2 437–471.

  21. Kothawale and Rupa Kumar 2002 Tropospheric temperature variation over India and links with the Indian summer monsoon: 1971–2000; Mausum 53 289–308.

  22. Lau W and Li M T 1984 The monsoon of East Asia and its global associations – A survey; Bull. Am. Meteor. Soc. 65 114–125, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0477(1984)065<0114:TMOEAA>2.0.CO;2.

  23. Lau W and Kim M K 2017 Competing influences of greenhouse warming and aerosols on Asian summer monsoon circulation and rainfall; Asia-Pac. J. Atmos. Sci. 53(2) 181–194.

  24. Li C and Yanai M 1996 The onset and interannual variability of the Asian summer monsoon in relation to land–sea thermal contrast; J. Climate 9 358–375, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0442(1996)009<0358:TOAIVO>.2.0.CO;2.

  25. Liebmann B 1996 Description of a complete (interpolated) outgoing long wave radiation dataset; Bull. Am. Meteor. Soc. 77 1275–1277.

  26. Meehl G A 1992 Effect of tropical topography on global climate; Ann. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 20 85–112.

  27. Murakami M 1987 Satellite cloudiness in the monsoon area in monsoon meteorology (eds) Chang C P and Krishnamurti T N, Oxford University Press, New York, 359p.

  28. Parthasarathy B, Munot A A and Kothawale D R 1994 All-India monthly and seasonal rainfall series: 1871–1993; Theor. Appl. Climatol. 49(4) 217–224.

  29. Raghavan K 1973 Break monsoon over India; Mon. Wea. Rev. 101 33–43.

  30. Rajeevan M, Bhate J, Kale K D and Lal B 2006 High resolution daily gridded rainfall data for the Indian region: Analysis of break and active monsoon spells; Curr. Sci. 91 296–306.

  31. Ramage C S 1971 Monsoon Meteorology; Int. Geophys. Ser., Vol. 15, San Diego, CA: Academic.

  32. Rao Y P 1976 Southwest Monsoon; Meteorological Monograph (synoptic meteorology), No. 1, India Meteorological Department, New Delhi, 366p.

  33. Rayner N A, Parker D E, Horton E B, Folland C K, Alexander L V, Rowell D P, Kent E C and Kaplan A 2003 Global analyses of sea surface temperature, sea ice, and night marine air temperature since the late nineteenth century; J. Geophys. Res. 108(D14) 4407, https://doi.org/10.1029/2002JD002670.

  34. Riehl H 1954 Tropical Meteorology; McGraw Hill, New York, 392p.

  35. Riehl H 1979 Climate and Weather in the Tropics; Academic Press, San Diego, New York, 611p.

  36. Sajani Surendran 1999 Simulation of monsoon precipitation and its variation by atmospheric general circulation models; Ph.D. thesis, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.

  37. Schneider T, Bischoff T and Haug G H 2014 Migrations and dynamics of the intertropical convergence zone; Nature 513 45–53, https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13636.

  38. Sikka D R and Sulochana Gadgil 1980 On the maximum cloud zone and the ITCZ over India longitude during the southwest monsoon; Mon. Wea. Rev. 1081840–1853.

  39. Simpson G 1921 The south-west monsoon; Quart. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 199(17) 150–173.

  40. Singh N, Pant G B and Mulye S S 1992 Spatial variability of aridity over northern India; Proc. Indian Acad. Sci. (Earth Planet. Sci.) 101(3) 201–213.

  41. Srinivasan J 2011 Response of a fluid to differential heating from below; Personal communication.

  42. Srivastava A K, Rajeevan M and Kshirsagar S R 2008 Development of a high resolution daily gridded temperature data set (1969–2005) for the Indian region; National Climate Centre, India Meteorological Department, Pune, Research Report No: 8/2008.

  43. Trenberth K E, Stepaniak D P and Caron J M 2000 The global monsoon as seen through the divergent atmospheric circulation; J. Climate 12 3969–3992.

  44. Trenberth K E, Hurrell J W and Stepaniak D P 2006 The Asian Monsoon: Global perspectives; In: The Asian Monsoon (ed.) Bin Wang, Springer.

  45. Uppala S M, KÅllberg P W, Simmons A J, Andrae U, Bechtold V D C, Fiorino M, Gibson J K, Haseler J, Hernandez A, Kelly G A, Li X, Onogi K, Saarinen S, Sokka N, Allan R P, Andersson E, Arpe K, Balmaseda M A, Beljaars A C M, Berg L V D, Bidlot J, Bormann N, Caires S, Chevallier F, Dethof A, Dragosavac M, Fisher M, Fuentes M, Hagemann S, Hólm E, Hoskins B J, Isaksen L, Janssen P A E M, Jenne R, Mcnally A P, Mahfouf J-F, Morcrette J-J, Rayner N A, Saunders R W, Simon P, Sterl A, Trenberth K E, Untch A, Vasiljevic D, Viterbo P and Woollen J 2005 The ERA-40 re-analysis; Quart. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 131 2961–3012, https://doi.org/10.1256/qj.04.176.

  46. Walker J M, Bordoni S and Schneider T 2015 Interannual variability in the large-scale dynamics of the south Asian summer monsoon; J. Climate 28 3731.

  47. Webster P J 1987a The elementary monsoon; In: Monsoons (eds) Fein J and Pamela Stephens, Wiley-Interscience.

  48. Webster P J 1987b The variable and interactive monsoon; In: Monsoons (eds) Fein J and Pamela Stephens, Wiley-Interscience.

  49. Webster P J, Magaña V O, Palmer T N, Shukla J, Tomas R A, Yanai M and Yasunari T 1998 Monsoons: Processes, predictability and the prospects for prediction; J. Geophys. Res. 103 14,451–14,510.

  50. Xie P and Arkin P A 1997 Global precipitation: A 17-year monthly analysis based on gauge observations, satellite estimates, and numerical model outputs; Bull. Am. Meteor. Soc. 78 2539– 2558.

  51. Zhou J and Lau K M 1998 Does the monsoon climate exist over South America; J. Climate 11 1020.

Download references

Acknowledgements

It is a pleasure to acknowledge the monsoon experts, the late D R Sikka, Drs T N Krishnamurti and P V Joseph, from whom I have learnt a great deal, stimulating discussions over many years with Profs J Srinivasan, G S Bhat, Ravi Nanjundiah and other colleagues at CAOS and insights gained from comments of Profs Mark Cane and S G H Philander, contributed significantly to my understanding of the monsoon problem. This paper could not have been written without the fruitful interaction with Drs P A Francis, Sajani Surendran and K Rajendran. A detailed and careful review by Dr D Shankar and useful suggestions by the reviewers helped considerably in improving the paper.

Author information

Correspondence to Sulochana Gadgil.

Additional information

Corresponding editor: N V Chalapathi Rao

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Gadgil, S. The monsoon system: Land–sea breeze or the ITCZ?. J Earth Syst Sci 127, 1 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12040-017-0916-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Indian summer monsoon
  • monsoonal regions
  • intertropical convergence zone
  • equatorial trough
  • heat lows