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Essay on the Climate of India

Essay Contents:

  1. Essay on the Introduction to Climate of India
  2. Essay on the History of Climate
  3. Essay on the Climatic Regions in India
  4. Essay on the Factors of Indian Climate
  5. Essay on the Impacts of Climate

1. Essay on the Introduction to Climate of India:

Most of India has a tropical or subtropical climate, with little variation in temperature between seasons. The northern plains, however, have a greater temperature range, with cooler winters and hotter summers. The mountain areas have cold winters and cool summers. As elevations increase sharply in the mountains, climate type can change from subtropical to polar within a few miles.

The climate of India defies easy generalisation, comprising a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale and varied topography. Analysed according to the Koppen system, India hosts six major climatic subtypes, ranging from desert in the west, to alpine tundra and glaciers in the north, to humid tropical regions supporting rainforests in the southwest and the island territories. Many regions have starkly different microclimates. The nation has four seasons – winter (January and February), summer (March to May), a monsoon (rainy) season (June to September), and a post-monsoon period (October to December).

India’s unique geography and geology strongly influence its climate; this is particularly true of the Himalayas in the north and the Thar Desert in the northwest. The Himalayas act as a barrier to the frigid katabatic winds flowing down from Central Asia. Thus, North India is kept warm or only mildly cold during winter; in summer, the same phenomenon makes India relatively hot.

Although the Tropic of Cancer—the boundary between the tropics and subtropics—passes through the middle of India, the whole country is considered to be tropical. As in much of the tropics, monsoonal and other weather conditions in India are unstable – major droughts, floods, cyclones and other natural disasters are sporadic, but have killed or displaced millions. India’s long-term climatic stability may be further threatened by global warming.

2. Essay on the History of Climate:

During the Late Permian (some 260–251 Ma), the Indian subcontinent was part of the vast supercontinent Pangaea Despite its position within a high-latitude belt at 55-75°S (as opposed to its current position between 5 and 35°N), latitudes now occupied by Greenland and parts of the Antarctic Peninsula, India likely experienced a humid temperate climate with warm, frost-free weather, though with well-defined seasons. Later, India joined the southern supercontinent Gondwana, a process beginning some 550—500 Ma.

During the Late Paleozoic, Gondwana extended from a point at or near the South Pole to near the equator, where the Indian craton (stable continental crust) was positioned, resulting in a mild climate favourable to hosting high-biomass ecosystems. This is underscored by India’s vast coal reserves—much of it from the late Paleozoic sedimentary sequence—the fourth-largest reserves in the world.

During the Mesozoic, the world, including India, was considerably warmer than today. With the coming of the Carboniferous, global cooling stoked extensive glaciation, which spread northwards from South Africa towards India; this cool period lasted well into the Permian.

Tectonic movement by the Indian Plate caused it to pass over a geologic hotspot—the Reunion hotspot—now occupied by the volcanic island of Reunion. This resulted in a massive flood basalt event that laid down the Deccan Traps some 60-68 Ma, at the end of the Cretaceous period. This may have contributed to the global Cretaceous-Tertiary (K- T) extinction event, which caused India to experience significantly reduced insolation. Elevated atmospheric levels of sulphur gases formed aerosols such as sulphur dioxide and sulphuric acid, similar to those found in the atmosphere of Venus; these precipitated as acid rain.

Elevated carbon dioxide emissions also contributed to the greenhouse effect, causing warmer weather that lasted long after the atmospheric shroud of dust and aerosols had cleared. Further climatic changes 20 million years ago, long after India had crashed into the Laurasian landmass, were severe enough to cause the extinction of many endemic Indian forms. The formation of the Himalayas resulted in blockage of frigid Central Asian air, preventing it from reaching India; this made its climate significantly warmer and more tropical in character than it would otherwise have been.

3. Essay on the Climatic Regions in India:

India is home to an extraordinary variety of climatic regions, ranging from tropical in the south to temperate and alpine in the Himalayan north, where elevated regions receive sustained winter snowfall. The nation’s climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, The Himalayas, along with the Hindu Kush mountains in Pakistan, prevent cold Central Asian katabatic winds from blowing in, keeping the bulk of the Indian subcontinent warmer than most locations at similar latitudes.

Simultaneously, the Thar Desert plays a role in attracting moisture-laden southwest summer monsoon winds that, between June and October, provide the majority of India’s rainfall. Four major climatic groupings predominate, into which fall seven climatic zones that, as designated by experts, are defined on the basis of such traits as temperature and precipitation. Groupings are assigned codes according to the Koppen climate classification system. India has a large variation in climate from region to region, due to its vast size. India experiences climate from four major climate groups.

These can be further subdivided into seven climatic types:

1. Tropical Rainy Climatic Group:

The regions belonging to this group experience persistent high temperatures which normally do not go below 18°C even in the coolest month.

There are two climatic types which fall under this group:

i. Tropical Monsoon Rain Forest:

The west coastal lowlands, the Western Ghats, and southern parts of Assam have this climate type. It is characterised by high temperatures throughout the year, even in the hills. The rainfall here is seasonal, but heavy and is above 200 cm a year. Most of the rain is received in the period from May to November, and is adequate for the growth of vegetation during the entire year. December to March is the dry months with very little rainfall. The heavy rain is responsible for the tropical wet forests in these regions, which consists of a large number of species of animals.

ii. Tropical Wet and Dry Climate:

Most of the plateau of peninsular India enjoys this climate, except a semi-arid tract to the east of the Western Ghats. Winter and early summer are long dry periods with temperature above 18°C. Summer is very hot and the temperatures in the interior low level areas can go above 45°C during May. The rainy season is from June to September and the annual rainfall is between 75 and 150 cm. Only Tamil Nadu receives rainfall during the winter months of October to December.

2. Dry Climate Group:

This group consists of regions where the rate of evaporation of water is higher than the rate of moisture received through precipitation.

It is subdivided into three climate types:

i. Tropical Semi-Arid Steppe Climate:

A long stretch of land situated to the south of Tropic of Cancer and east of the western-Ghats and the Cardamom Hills experiences this climate. It includes Karnataka, interior Tamil Nadu, western Andhra Pradesh and central Maharashtra. This region is a famine prone zone with very unreliable rainfall which varies between 40 to 75 cm annually. Towards the north of Krishna River the summer monsoon is responsible for most of the rainfall, while to the south of the river rainfall also occurs in the months of October and November.

The coldest month is December but even in this month the temperature remains between 20°C and 24°C. The months of March to May are hot and dry with mean monthly temperatures of around 32°C. The vegetation mostly comprises grasses with a few scattered trees due to the rainfall. Hence this area is not very well suited for permanent agriculture.

ii. Tropical and Sub-Tropical Desert:

Most of western Rajasthan falls under this climate type characterised by scanty rainfall. Cloud bursts are largely responsible for the all the rainfall seen in this region which is less than 30 cm. These happen when the monsoon winds penetrate this region in the months of July, August and September. The rainfall is very erratic and a few regions might not see rainfall for a couple of years. The summer months of May and June are very hot with mean monthly temperatures in the region of 35°C and highs which can sometimes reach 50°C.

During winters the temperatures can drop below freezing in some areas due to cold wave. There is a large diurnal range of about 14°C during summer which becomes higher by a few more degrees during winter. This extreme climate makes this a sparsely populated region of India.

iii. Tropical and Sub-Tropical Steppe:

The region towards the east of the tropical desert running from Punjab and Haryana to Kathiawar experiences this climate type. This climate is a transitional climate falling between tropical desert and humid sub­tropical, with temperatures which are less extreme than the desert climate.

The annual rainfall is between 30 to 65 cm but is very unreliable and happens mostly during the summer monsoon season. Maximum temperatures during summer can rise to 40°C. The vegetation mostly comprises short coarse grass. Some crops like jowar and bajra are also cultivated.

3. Humid Sub-Tropical Climate Group:

The temperature during the coldest months in regions experiencing this climate falls between 18°C and 0°C.

It has one climatic subdivision in India:

Humid Sub-Tropical with Dry Winters:

The foothills of the Himalayas, Punjab-Haryana plain adjacent to the Himalayas, Rajasthan east of the Aravaili range, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and northern part of West Bengal and Assam experience this climate. The rainfall is received mostly in the summer and is about 65 cm in the west and increases to 250 cm annually to the east and near the Himalayas.

The winters are mainly dry due to the land derived winter winds which blow down the lowlands of north India towards the Bay of Bengal. The summers are hot and temperatures can reach 46°C in the lowlands. May and June are the hottest months. Winter months are mostly dry with feeble winds. Frost occurs for a few weeks in winter. The difference in rainfall between the east and the west gives rise to a wide difference in the natural vegetation and crops.

4. Mountain Climate:

In the Himalayan mountains the temperature falls by 0.6°C for every 100 m rise in altitude and this gives rise to a variety of climates from nearly tropical in the foothills to tundra type above the snow line. One can also observe sharp contrast between temperatures of the sunny and shady slopes, high diurnal range of temperature, inversion of temperature, and variability of rainfall based on altitude.

The northern side of the western Himalayas also known as the trans- Himalayan belt is arid, cold and generally wind swept. The vegetation is sparse and stunted as rainfall is scanty and the winters are severely cold.

Most of the rainfall is in the form of snow during late winter and spring months. The area to the south of the great Himalayan range is protected from cold winds coming from interior of Asia during winter. The leeward side of the mountains receives less rain while the well exposed slopes get heavy rainfall.

The places situated between 1070 m and 2290 m altitudes receive the heaviest rainfall and the rainfall decreases rapidly above 2290 m. The great Himalayan range witnesses’ heavy snowfall during winter months of December to February at altitudes above 1500 m. The diurnal range of temperature is also high.

The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim experience this kind of weather.

4. Essay on the Factors of Indian Climate:

It is true that the determiners of climate go much further than man-made political boundaries.

Several of the factors and phenomena governing the climate of India overstep its four walls, i.e.:

(i) Situation,

(ii) Relief,

(iii) Surface winds, and

(iv) Upper air circulation.

Locational and Relief Factors:

Situated approximately between 8 °N and 37 °N latitudes, India is divided in nearly two equal parts by the Tropic of Cancer. It stretches east-west just half way through the country.

One can notice how India is flanked by Indian Ocean in the south and girded by a towering and incessant mountain wall in the north. Such a condensed physical setting imparts it an extensive common climatic framework. One can also note the abysmal arms of the Indian Ocean – the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. They exercise moderate influence on much of the Indian subcontinent. More significantly, they work as a storehouse of severely needed moisture to this water-thirsty landmass.

The mighty Himalaya along with its lengthiness, work as a successful climatic divides. The looming mountain chain provides an indomitable defend to protect the subcontinent from the northern winds. These cold and icy winds initiate near the Arctic Circle and blows throughout Central and Eastern Asia. Thus the northern mountain wall is accountable for lending the whole of northern India a tropical touch.

Comparatively high temperatures virtually throughout the year and principally dry winters – are the two characteristic facets of a topical climate. Excluding the fringe, the Indian subcontinent does demonstrate these two over-riding characteristics.

The Surface Winds and Air Circulation:

One can start by firstly looking at the world map of the pressure belts and planetary winds. It can there be noticed that India lies in the area of land bearing winds, initiating from the subtropical high pressure belts. On the whole they are moisture-less winds, if not for the occurrence of the monsoons, India would have been a baked land or a desert. The subtropical high pressure belt of the northern hemisphere brings about everlasting winds. They blow in the direction of the equatorial low pressure belt.

While travelling towards the south, they redirect towards the right i.e. to their west. Consequently they blow from north-east towards south-west. This is why these eternal winds are known as the north-east trade winds. The German word ‘trade’ means ‘track’ and represents ‘blowing steadily in the same direction and in a constant course’. India thus lies in the belt of the north-east trades, completely lacking in moisture. This is however only half story of the Indian climatic happening. 

The air pressure does increase by stacking of air, coming down from above. But it is also a function of air temperature. The land and water bodies do not get heated precisely in a similar way. In summer the land gets more heated compared to the seas. Therefore a low pressure rises over the centre of the land masses. This occurrence is fundamentally responsible for the turnaround of wind direction, giving rise to the south­west monsoons.

Air currents vary from winds because they are located at a pretty high altitude from the earth’s surface. The motion of jet streams also touches on the climate of India. A jet stream blows rapidly in a tapered zone in the upper atmosphere. A westerly jet stream in lower stratosphere passes over south of the Himalaya during the winters. In June, it moves northwards to position itself north of the Tien Shan in Central Asia – instead, an easterly jet stream develops in approximately 25 °N.

Low pressure and freshly developed jet stream are accountable for the abrupt outburst of the monsoons in northern India. Cooling effect easterly jet stream causes rain from maritime clouds, previously lingering over this area. The unsteady equatorial oceanic air is able to form rain-bearing dark clouds, often up to an altitude of 9 km to 15 km high up into the sky. This enlightens the happening of prevalent storms, thunders and great progress of monsoons all over India, often in just eight to ten days.

The Mechanism of Monsoons:

The word monsoon, as is distinguished, has been deduced from an Arabic word ‘mausim’ that factually means ‘season’. The word monsoon, hence, refers to a season in which the wind system is wholly overturned. The moist monsoon winds, after voyaging over the equator in the Indian Ocean, gains a southwesterly direction as the area attracted towards the low pressure are located in Northwest India and Central Myanmar. The dry and hot land-bearing trades are consequently entirely swapped by sea – bearing winds, full of moisture.

Based on the dissimilarity between tropical continental air and equatorial maritime air, the meteorological definition of the monsoons is quite uncomplicated. According to them it is a total replacement of the dry hot air by the equatorial maritime air, up to an elevation of three to five kilometres over the land and water surface.

The occurrence of monsoons is certainly quite prehistoric, but its precise nature and cause are being observed only lately. The substantial breakthrough took place when it was studied at the global rather than regional level. On the whole this occurrence is limited to tropical lands, lying within 20 °N and 20 °S. But in the Indian subcontinent it is significantly regulated by the Himalayan ranges bringing the whole subcontinent under the control of these moist equatorial winds for a season varying between two to five months. It accounts for 75 to 90 per cent of the yearly rainfall, just from June to September.

The nature and system of the monsoons is understood with the help of meteorological statistics that are collected from stations on land, ships in oceans and from upper air. It was formerly assumed that monsoon was a phenomenon of surface winds. It is now known that upper air currents also play a substantial role in the mechanism of monsoon.

It has also been established that the concentration of monsoons can be largely forecast by measuring the differentiation in pressure between Tahiti (roughly 18°S and 149 °W) in French Polynesia in east Pacific and Port Darwin (12°30’S and 131″E) in Northern Territory of Australia in Indian Ocean, southeast of Indonesia.

5. Essay on the Impacts of Climate:

Change in climate is impact on natural system, Impacts on Social Systems and Impacts on human health.

The following are:

1. Impacts of Climate on Natural Systems:

Regionally and globally our climate is changing. To fully grasp the implication of a changing climate upon Earth and ourselves, we need to have an appreciation of the range of natural systems and how they are interconnected. Systems thinking are the approach of studying the interactions amongst components within the context of a whole system, as well as the interactions between systems. Earth is composed of many natural systems with numerous interactions within and between these systems. Due to this level of complexity, one small change can lead to numerous significant changes in one or more of the systems.

The main natural systems of Earth include:

i. Biological systems, i.e., individuals, species populations, and communities;

ii. Ecosystems, i.e., the interactions amongst living organisms and physical and chemical factors in the environment;

iii. Global energy budget, i.e., flow, of energy originating from the Sun into and out of Earth’s systems;

iv. Water cycle (hydrological cycle);

v. Cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and other elements or molecules (biogeochemical cycles);

vi. Rock cycle, i.e., geological processes; and the

vii. Global climate system, i.e., the interactions that create the climates and weather patterns throughout Earth.

Also, Earth can be divided into distinct physical zones or “spheres”, including the geosphere (the solid parts of Earth), the hydrosphere (the Oceans and fresh water parts), the atmosphere (the area above the surface of Earth containing gases), and the biosphere (the living component). The natural systems often involve energy flowing and elements or compounds cycling through these spheres.

Climate change is an example of how one change can lead to multiple impacts. As the average global temperature (i.e., global warming) increases due to an enhanced greenhouse effect, there are numerous and far ranging effects within the global climate system. These changes within the global climate system are collectively called climate change.

They include – increased evaporation of fresh and ocean water leading to increased atmospheric moisture; change in the amount and pattern of precipitation; variable temperature changes in specific climatic areas; change in overall distribution of normal weather events; increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events; change in wind intensity; and warming of oceans resulting in rising sea level.

Because the natural systems of Earth, including the global climate system, are complex and interconnected, the impact of changing one aspect of one system reverberates throughout all of Earth’s systems.

The impacts of climate change on natural systems are far ranging. For example, the impact on the water cycle includes changes in the size of fresh water reservoirs as seen by the melting of glaciers, ice caps, and permafrost and the evaporation of lakes; and increased amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, which affects the amount of solar energy that is reflected back into space or absorbed within the atmosphere and increases the amount of precipitation. These changes can then have an effect on the global energy budget and subsequently the global climate system leading to further climate change.

In regards to ecosystems, the changes in regional climates are effectively changes in the abiotic components. Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns lead to shifts in the timing of seasons and thus reproductive timing of plants and animals as well as length of growing season.

Shifts in water availability and temperatures affect species distribution (e.g., location or range where found) and abundance (e.g., numbers of individuals in populations) due to loss/expansion of suitable habitat (e.g., melting permafrost in arctic). Some species may become extinct if they cannot adapt at a similar rate to the changes occurring, resulting in a loss of biodiversity, loss of pollinators and seed dispersers, and biological control of pests.

As a result of the many and varied effects of climate change on natural systems, there will also be many ways in which human systems are impacted. Our resource industries, food and health systems, production and manufacturing systems, and infrastructure all will be affected.

2. Impacts on Social Systems:

Changes in vulnerability depend on trajectories of social and technological innovation and on effective forms of risk communication. Variation in innovation systems can be identified at several levels, allowing for downscaling from national to regional levels. Institutional regimes and governance structures influence the adaptation capacities of social systems. Established patterns of science-policy interactions are important channels through which risk perception and communication is formed. These social science concepts can be used to develop typologies that can feed into long-term monitoring data.

Coastal zones are regions of dense interaction between natural and socio-economic changes. Regional vulnerabilities and dynamics depend on risk perception of social systems and their adaptive capabilities. Severe science gaps exist in the analysis and evaluation of impacts of climate changes and geo-risks related to regional economic, socio-demographic and cultural systems and different spatial structures like agricultural land-use systems or urban and port areas.

Referring to the LOICZ science plan we contribute to following research questions – Which regional risks (will) arise from socio-economic and natural change due to the intensity and predictability of climatic and human forcing of global change? What are the time lags between predictability of risks and processes of regional adaptation and mitigation? What are political, economic, cultural and social incentives or barriers for stakeholder involvement and participation?

International Security:

The various impacts of climate change as found in other the major research areas (geo-risks, terrestrial, marine and urban systems) are translated in socially relevant consequences, which are projected on a political map. This will allow investigating the implications on international security (migration across borders, potential conflicts caused by regionally uneven distribution of scarce resources, etc.) and possible conflicts from non-compliance with international agreements (e.g., Kyoto Protocol, Biodiversity Convention).

3. Impacts on Human Health and Comfort:

The nature of projected climate-related changes and variability, and the characteristics of arctic populations, means that impacts of climate change on the health of arctic residents will vary considerably depending on such factors as age, gender, socio-economic status, lifestyle, culture, location, and the capacity of local health infrastructure and systems to adapt.

It is more likely that populations living in close association with the land, in remote communities, and those that already face a variety of health-related challenges will be most vulnerable to future climate changes. Health status in many arctic regions has changed significantly over the past decades and the climate, weather, and environment have played, and will continue to play a significant role in the health of residents in these regions.

Direct health impacts may result from changes in the incidence of extreme events (avalanches, storms, floods, rockslides) which have the potential to increase the numbers of deaths and injuries each year. Direct impacts of winter warming in some regions may include a reduction in cold-induced injuries such as frostbite and hypothermia and a reduction in cold stress. As death rates are higher in winter than summer, milder winters in some regions could reduce the number of deaths.

Direct negative impacts of warming could include increased heat stress in summer and accidents associated with unpredictable ice and weather conditions. Indirect impacts may include increased mental and social stress related to changes in the environment and lifestyle, potential changes in bacterial and viral proliferation, vector-borne disease outbreaks, and changes in access to good quality drinking water sources.

Also, some regions may experience a change in the rates of illnesses resulting from impacts on sanitation infrastructure. Impacts on food security through changes in animal distribution and accessibility have the potential for significant impacts on health as shifts from a traditional diet to a more “western” diet are known to be associated with increased risk of cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Increased exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation among arctic residents has the potential to affect the response of the immune system to disease, and to influence the development of skin cancer and non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as the development of cataracts.

However, as the current incidence rates for many of these ailments are low in small arctic communities it is difficult to detect, let alone predict, any trends in their future incidence. The presence of environmental contaminants threatens the safety of traditional food systems, which are often the central fabric of communities.

The projected warming scenarios will affect the transport, distribution, and behaviour of environmental contaminants and thus human exposure to these substances in northern regions.

These changes are all taking place within the context of cultural and socio-economic change and evolution. They therefore represent another of many sources of stress on societies and cultures as they affect the relationship between people and their environment, which is a defining element of many northern cultures. Through potential increases in factors influencing acculturative stress and mental health, climate-related changes may further stress communities and individual psychosocial health.

Communities must be prepared to identify, document, and monitor changes in their area in order to adapt to shifts in their local environment. The basis of this understanding is the ability to collect, organize, and understand information indicative of the changes taking place and their potential impacts. A series of community indicators are proposed to support this development of monitoring and decision-making ability within northern regions and communities.