Sunday, July 27, 2008

New model for monsoon formation

CalTech researchers say they have found a better explanation for monsoons. They attribute them to collision between tropical circulation and large-scale turbulent eddies generated in the atmosphere in middle latitudes.

[right, ASU School of Geographical Sciences]

The traditional model for monsoons is that they form from temperature differences between warmer land and cooler ocean surfaces. This goes back to the ideas of astronomer Edmond Halley (ie, Halley's Comet) in 1686.

In the new model, the atmospheric eddies crash into the tropical circulation like waves on a beach, which can quickly change the circulation pattern and produce high winds and heavy rainfalls typical of monsoons. It seems like this could lead to more accurate forecasting of locations and severity of monsoon storms.

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