The monsoon system: Land–sea breeze or the ITCZ?
For well over 300 years, the monsoon has been considered to be a gigantic land–sea breeze driven by the land–ocean contrast in surface temperature. In this paper, this hypothesis and its implications for the variability of the monsoon are discussed and it is shown that the observations of monsoon variability donot support this popular theory of the monsoon. An alternative hypothesis (whose origins can be traced to Blanford’s (1886) remarkably perceptive analysis) in which the basic system responsible for the Indian summer monsoon is considered to be the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) or the equatorial trough, is then examined and shown to be consistent with the observations. The implications of considering the monsoon as a manifestation of the seasonal migration of the ITCZ for the variability of the Indian summer monsoon and for identification of the monsoonal regions of the world are briefly discussed.