Cycles of the Indian Monsoon

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Monsoons are like giant sea breezes that lead to sharply seasonal precipitation patterns throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of our planet. During summer, landmasses heat up more and faster than the adjacent ocean, pulling air laden with moisture toward the continent. During winter, surface winds reverse, and dry airflows from the continental interior toward the ocean. As a result, up to 90% of the annual precipitation in monsoon regions falls in summer.

The Indian Monsoon is the most vigorous of these systems on Earth and its variability affects the lives of billions of people. Recently, an international drilling expedition ( by the International Ocean Discovery Program retrieved new sediment cores from the Bay of Bengal to unveil the geological history of the Indian Monsoon.

Our group participates in this effort by investigating the last 2 million years of this history, to shed new light on the response of the monsoon to: (1) changes in the astronomical forcing of climate due to changes in the geometry of Earth’s orbit around the Sun; (2) the waxing and the waning of large ice sheets over the high to middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere; and (3) changing levels of greenhouse gases (notably CO2) in the atmosphere.

Have you got an interest in unraveling the response of monsoons to climate forcing, and its role in global climate variability? Do you want to learn state-of-the-art analytical techniques? Then email us (Prof. Eelco J. Rohling, Dr. Gianluca Marino)!

We can support projects on this topic at Honours, MSc, and PhD level.

Photo credit: Joides Resolution, Bay of Bengal (Indian Ocean), IODP Expeditions 353, Photo by William Crawford, IODP/TAMU

Updated:  26 April 2017/Responsible Officer:  RSES Webmaster/Page Contact:  RSES Webmaster