Monsoon in India – Types, Factors Affecting Indian Monsoon

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Monsoon in India is one of the most prominent monsoon systems in the world which is why the Indian climate is referred to as the ‘monsoon type’. There are four seasonal divisions in India, out of which two are monsoon divisions. This automatically makes us aware of the importance of the Indian Monsoon. Also, India is an agricultural country and the onset of monsoon in India majorly contributes to the GDP of the country.

The Indian monsoon affects the other water bodies surrounding it. It is initiated from the northeast direction during comparatively cooler months and alters its direction during the hottest months to blow from the southwest direction. Due to this process, large amounts of rainfall generally occur leading to monsoon in India during June and July.

Monsoon in India

Monsoon in India is generally referred to as the rainy season or the locally heavy but short-term rains that occur during the period. There are mainly four monsoon systems in the world namely: Asian-Australian, North American, South American, and West African.

The term monsoon was technically derived from the Arabic word: ‘Mawsim’ which was used to refer to seasons. Monsoon refers to the ‘seasonal winds’ that occur during specific periods during the year causing rains in various parts of the world. The monsoon in India occurs through the southwest monsoon winds in the summer months and northeast monsoon winds during the winter season.

Types of Indian Monsoon

Monsoon in India is much-awaited by the farming community in the country. India being a majorly agricultural economy, awaits a good monsoon. There are two types of the Indian monsoon –

  • Southwest Monsoon
  • Northeast Monsoon

The rainy season in India also known as the Southwest Monsoon Season majorly dominates the region. The Northeast Monsoon enters India’s northeast region. The monsoon in India generally occurs between April and September. Therefore we can say that India and Southeast Asia majorly depend on the summer season for its monsoon.

South West Monsoon

The Southwest monsoon winds are responsible for bringing heavy rainfall to maximum regions in India. What initiates the Southwest monsoon is extreme heat on the Tibetan Plateau in the summer season. This leads to the formation of low pressure and permanent high pressure in the south direction of the Indian Ocean. The rains caused by the Southwest monsoon are a result of the large air currents that pass through the warm equatorial ocean which gives rise to evaporation.

  • After crossing the equator, the Southwestern winds branch out into two and move over the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. This happens due to the Southwest monsoon winds hitting the Western Ghats.
  • The monsoon in the Arabian Sea region is much stronger than that in the Bay of Bengal.
  • High levels of evaporation from the surface of the ocean give rise to water vapor and the southwest monsoon winds, then filled with the water vapor gradually start cooling while rising above the land surface and moving towards the north direction.
  • When the air reaches its saturation point and cannot retain the moisture, it brings heavy rains.
  • At times, there are many heavy showers of rain that even result in floods in the area.
  • Kerala is the first Indian state to receive rainfall during the Southwest monsoon.
  • The Tamil Nadu coast generally remains dry during the Southwest monsoon as Tamil Nadu gets its rainfall during the winter months due to Northeastern trade winds.

Northeast Monsoon

The Northeast monsoon originated from the creation of high amounts of pressure over the Siberian and the Tibetan Plateaus during the winter season. The Northeastern winds are responsible for bringing rains to the Southeast coast of India. The Southeast coast refers to areas of Tamil Nadu coast and Seemandhra’s south coast.

  • During the Northeast monsoon, the winds blow from sea to land, and the monsoon winds carry the moisture created by the Indian Ocean.
  • The Northeast monsoon majorly affects South India causing rainfall in Puducherry, Karaikal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Yanam, Mahe, and Karnataka from the months of October to December.
  • The three months mentioned above majorly result in heavy rainfall in the Tamil Nadu region which means 48% of the total rainfall in a year there.

Factors Affecting Monsoon in India

The monsoon season occurs all over the world in tropical areas between 20 degrees North and 20 degrees South. There are a number of factors that influence the monsoon in India.

  • Variable heating and cooling of land and water.
  • The intense heating of the Tibetan plateau during the summer season.
  • High-pressure area in the east of Madagascar which is located approximately 20 degrees to the South over the Indian Ocean.
  • Tropical Easterly Jet or the African Easterly Jet.
  • Southern Oscillation – An irregular periodic variation in the temperature of the sea surface and winds in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean.

Mechanism of Indian Monsoon

India majorly relies on the monsoon season, being an agriculture-based economy. The origin of monsoon in India has not been fully traced until now. Many theories have been doing rounds with respect to the mechanism of monsoon in India and worldwide.

  • The monsoon season is majorly experienced in the tropical region between 20 degrees North – 20 degrees South.
  • Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) plays an important role in the smooth mechanism of monsoon. With the movement of the sun, the location of the ITCZ moves towards both north and south of the equator.
  • The changing location of the ITCZ plays a big role in the occurrence of monsoons. E.g when the ITCZ is located on the Indo-Gangetic Plain in July, the region experiences a South-West monsoon.
  • Another theory behind the Indian Monsoon is the heating up of the Tibetan plateau resulting in jet streams which are also called the tropical easterly jet stream (TEJ). It results in a high-pressure cell over the Indian ocean resulting in monsoon in India.

Monsoon Winds in India

Based on the type of monsoon occurring in the Indian subcontinent, there are two types of winds that actually give the classification of the two types of monsoon in India. Based on that classification and the reason for these two types of monsoons arising in India, there are two types of monsoon winds:

  • Southwest Monsoon Winds
  • Northeast Monsoon Winds

Importance of Monsoon in India

India is an agricultural economy that holds a lot of importance to rainfall. Monsoon in India is a boon that directly affects not only the health and wellness of the citizens of the country but also the GDP of the economy. The importance of Indian monsoon can not be denied. Let us look at a few points about how the monsoon in India is an important phenomenon.

  • Monsoon in India is much awaited as it totally affects the growth of our necessary crops and vegetables. India utilizes a large chunk of its land for agricultural activities as compared to any other country in the world.
  • Fewer rainfall results in unnecessary wastage of the grown crops.
  • A bad monsoon in India results in decreased income and affects the livelihood of many people as a major amount of them work in the agriculture field.
  • A good monsoon in India can result in increased amounts of hydroelectric power generation which accounts for at least 25% of India’s electricity generation.

Indian Monsoon UPSC

Monsoon in India is a necessary phenomenon. Monsoon when it brings good rainfall results in good growth of crops, increased GDP of the economy, and successful employment of a large number of people.

For UPSC aspirants the topic of monsoon in India is a very important one and candidates can check the Indian Monsoon notes for a better understanding. Also, check a short note on the Southwest Monsoon and the Northeast Monsoon for the upcoming UPSC exam.

Indian Monsoon UPSC Questions

The candidates must practice the Indian Monsoon UPSC Questions to be able to gain complete details of the topics and gain proficiency in the same. Solving numerous questions will assist the candidates in uplifting the level of preparation and getting knowledge of the types of questions asked in the exam.

Question: The Southwest monsoon contributing to the total percentage of rainfall in India upto the percentage of- [A] 50-60% [B] 75% [C] 100% [D] 80-90%

Answer:(Option D) 80-90%

Question: What are the factors contributing to the monsoon type climate of India? [A] Location [B] Upper-Air Circulation [C] Himalayan Mountains [D] Thermal Contrast

Options: [A] 1,2,3 and 4 [B] 1,2 and 3 [C] 2,3,and 4 [D] 2 and 4 only

Answer: Options 1,2,3, and 4

Mains Question: Indian Monsoon is considered to be one of the most complicated geophysical phenomena. Explain the statement, and describe the mechanism of the onset of the Indian monsoon.

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