Decoding the influencing factors of the monsoon
It is that time of the year when the subcontinent’s most faithful visitor prepares to retreat after a four-month sojourn. The South Asian monsoon has consistently visited our landscape for perhaps 8 million years now.In this time, it has transcended the identity of a mere weather phenomenon and become a prominent feature of our mythology,history,arts and culture,all the while becoming entrenched in the emotions of billions that inhabit the region. It has become a reference point in the calendar year—a time to reflect on what the year has brought and what it holds for the future. So much so that today the monsoon has become the de facto indicator of prosperity.
But in recent times, its personality has changed. It seems to have become more complex.While it still keeps its date with India, it is moodier, angrier and no longer as bountiful as it once was.Over 100 years of recorded data attest to this.Eager anticipation of its arrival and stay is now tainted by uneasiness about its temperament.
Little wonder close to 1,000 researchers from Central institutes, besides numerous universities, have been trying to decode the monsoon and its behaviour. Earlier, the monsoons were understood through simplistic physical theories. Now with the advent of satellite technology and advanced computation,scientists are finally beginning to unravel the global connections that culminate in the Indian rainy season.But in doing so,climatologists and scientists seem to have stumbled upon a Pandora’s box. “The more we find out, the more we discover how little we know yet,”exclaims M Rajeevan,director of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (iitm) in Pune.“The Indian monsoon is perhaps the world’s most complex climatic system.”
Still,years of rigorous observations,theorisation and modelling beg the question of what exactly we know about the monsoon.