Major Climates of South Asia

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  • 0:01 What is Climate?
  • 1:09 Climates of South Asia
  • 4:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After watching this video, you will be able to describe the major climates of South Asia, including what they are like and where they are located. A short quiz will follow.

What is Climate?

Climate is what happens when you look at weather on a large scale in both area and time. Climate is the average or general weather conditions of a large area, taken over a long period of time. This means that the latest heat wave in your little corner of the world tells you nothing about climate, or about climate change for that matter.

Asian Climates

Asia has a lot of climates. A climate map of Asia looks more like a three-year-old has been playing with a paint set. There are 25 different types of climate in Asia in total, but we can make things a bit simpler. Some of the climate types are really just variations on a theme. A simplified map only has 10 climate types, and if you look at just South Asia - the topic for today's lesson - that reduces it to six climate types.

South Asian Climates

What is South Asia? Well, South Asia is an area usually considered to include (in alphabetical order) Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. So now that we know what our words mean, let's look at the climates of South Asia.

Climates of South Asia

The various climate types of South Asia don't follow any kind of perfect, easy-to-describe pattern, but there are certain things we can notice. The southernmost parts of South Asia, including southern India, Sri Lanka, and southern Bangladesh, have two dominant climates: tropical wet (or equatorial) and tropical wet and dry (or tropical savannah). An equatorial climate is a rainforest climate with heavy rainfall and no dry season, where every day is similar throughout the year. Equatorial climates are found only in select spots in South Asia: the west coast of India up almost as far as Mumbai, the south of Sri Lanka, the south of Bangladesh, and the Maldives.

Most of the rest of southern India, southern Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are tropical savannah. Tropical savannah is characterized by a strongly pronounced dry season and a wet season, and a landscape that tends to be halfway between a rainforest and a desert, essentially tropical grasslands. This tropical savannah climate is what South Asia is most famous for: a dry season followed by an incredibly wet season. The tropical monsoon, which is a period of very heavy rain, occurs between July and December. As wet air moves into South Asia from the sea, it rises as it approaches the Himalayas and pours huge quantities of rain on the land.

As you head north in South Asia, the equatorial and tropical savannah give way for humid subtropical conditions. Humid subtropical climates are characterized by hot, humid summers and mild to cool winters. This covers much of northern India, northern Bangladesh, and southern Nepal and Bhutan. If we walk even further north, we start to enter the highest mountain range in the world: the Himalayas. Here, we find a highland climate. Highland climates are cooler than nearby areas and are generally dry, though lower slopes can still be relatively wet.

But there's one part of South Asia we've missed out: western India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. When you head west, you find areas the monsoon misses, and things become increasingly dry. Here, there's a mix of two climates: semiarid and desert.

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