They have been referred to a "the winds of change" and "the life blood of the dry lands". The monsoons have long played a role for maritime trade. For over a thousand years sailors based travel on the trade winds. What are these winds?
Understanding monotonic winds are produced by land breezes and sea breezes. The breezes and patterns are seasonal. Sea breezes normally occur in the early morning hours. The winds come inland from the ocean. As afternoon approaches the sea breeze diminishes. As night comes creeping a land breeze begins and the winds from the land move out over the ocean. This is how the circulation process works. Only monsoons are not light sea and land breezes, they are colossal.
The main ingredient in the monsoons is heat and the way heat and sunlight affect the land and sea. Land and the ocean heat up at very different rates and have different heat capacities. Land heats up much faster than the sea. The air from the land is heated from below.
The thickness of the land or layer of soil is about ten centimeters. The surface of the ocean is heated to a much deeper level of about 10 meters thick. So you can see that one has a more dramatic effect than the other.
A great example of the summer monsoon would be in India. The summer monsoon is a giant sea breeze that brings moisture from the sea. There are large amount of rainfall involved and strong sea winds for the sailors.
Winter monsoons on the other hand tend to bring drought. The land winds are the prevalent wind. A good example of winder monsoon would be the Santa Anna winds in southern California, in the United States. They are not nearly as dramatic but give a clear model of winter monsoons.
The word monsoon is an Arabic word. It means seasons. India, where the monsoons are most prevalent not only rules maritime trade, but the every day life of those who live there. Floods and dry seasons cause them to move; change trades, and affects their everyday lives. In Africa migration of flocks and herds of animals and birds are directly related to the monsoons and where there is water.
As we watch global warming and see the temperature of the seas and the land change dramatically we can assume that the monsoons will soon have very different patterns and shapes.
Professionals have many models, but can't seem to settle on only one theory. Changes are inevitable. The question is will we be prepared to deal with the changes in a positive and productive manner? Controlling the monsoons is an impossible task, however learning from them and using their energy should be something we can work toward.