What Is a Monsoon?


Quick Answer

Monsoons are seasonal shifts in winds where the land and ocean intersect. Monsoons usually bring higher than usual amounts of rainfall to an area and sometimes cause massive flooding.

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What Is a Monsoon?
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Full Answer

Monsoon is an Arabic word for season. Traditional shifts in wind patterns occur on a daily basis as the temperature on land fluctuates from sunrise to sunset. Monsoons occur seasonally during the hot part of the year in coastal regions. Warm air from the land rises and is replaced by cooler ocean air. As the warm air rises, it carries with it moisture from the ocean. This moisture condenses in the atmosphere, forming massive rain clouds. Heavy rainfall can last for months with a monsoon. Countries that experience monsoons get approximately 80 percent of their rainfall during the monsoon season.

Several monsoon systems exist on Earth. India, Asia, parts of Australia, the Southwestern United States and Western Africa are all affected by monsoon seasons. Though monsoons do not occur in every area, they do affect the global climate. Chain reactions caused by heavier than normal or weaker than normal monsoon seasons cause either very low or very heavy rainfall. This can lead to severe flooding or droughts, which can have a devastating effect on local economies.

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