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The main jet streams are in middle and subtropical latitudes. The temperate
jet stream flows from west to east. It also travels in a wavy manner, going
north and south. In winter, two branches of the polar jet stream are
anchored by the Himalayas - one going to the north and the other to the
south of the mountains. The wind speeds in these jet streams may vary from
150 to 350 km/hr.
The southern branch of the polar jet stream causes subsidence in the
atmosphere in the northwestern part of India and as a result, a center of
high pressure develops there with out-flowing winds going southerly. A
stream of cold air from this high pressure enters Bangladesh during the
winter. Occasionally, these winds also bring in atmospheric disturbances that
are responsible for the occasional rainfall in Bangladesh during the winter.
From NW India the High sends winds that form the northeast monsoon.
As the winter season progresses into the spring and summer, temperature in
South Asia rises and the southern branch of the westerly polar jet stream
changes abruptly to the north of the Himalayas. It is then replaced by the
tropical easterly jet stream. Some evidence points to the thickness of the
winter snow cover over the Plateau of Tibet* and its eventual retreat that
triggers these changes in the upper atmosphere. In India, the “burst of the
monsoon” follows.
The tropical easterly jet stream is a seasonal and regional flow - operating
only in summer over the area that extends from the Indo-China Peninsula to
the coast of Saudi Arabia, at an elevation of 15-18 km above the sea level.
It is strongest over Peninsular India, where wind speed may reach 150-175
km/hr. In northern India, a Low pressure center sends air up into the
westward flow of the jet. Surface winds move from the south and southwest
and form the southwest monsoon.

350 km. = 217.35 miles

150 km. = 93.15 miles

*An area about half the size of the continental US but with
an average elevation of near 16,000 feet.
Changing explanations of the monsoon:
1. Giant land/sea breeze over all of Asia Late 1800s
Summer the land heats --- air above rises --- moist ocean air moves in
Winter the land cools --- air over ocean is warmer ---
pressure and winds reverse

Issue: Bitterly cold air from Plateau of Tibet is dense and isn’t prone
to rise up and over the Himalayas

2. Latitudinal shifts in the ITCZ Early 1900s

Winter the ITCZ draws wind out of India toward the SW,
thus NE monsoon
Summer the ITCZ shifts northward ---

Trade Winds from the opposite hemisphere

(SE Trades) are drawn north of EQ
Coriolis force helps to focus winds on the west coast of India
via the Arabian Sea so they become SW monsoon

Issue: Progress of the monsoon ought to be regular ---

“The burst of the monsoon” is not accounted for

3. Jet Stream Reversal After WW II

Winter the westerly polar front jet splits around the Himalayan Mtns.

The south branch creates persistent

high pressure from northern Pakistan on eastward
Air descending over India is adiabatically warmed and
Calcutta has January temperatures 7oC (15oF) higher than
Hong Kong at the same latitude because cold air does flow
out of Asia from north of the mountain barrier
Summer – the entire polar jet switches suddenly to the north and is
replaced by a reverse easterly equatorial jet
flowing across the northern Indian Ocean area
Low pressure is established over northern India under this jet
Explains the wind reversals and the suddenness of the change
Issue: What holds the polar jet in place and then suddenly changes?
Investigations center on the snow pack
and its demise on the Plateau of Tibet

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