Worldwide zones of tropical monsoon climate (Am).
An area of tropical monsoon climate (occasionally known as a tropical wet climate or a tropical monsoon and trade-wind littoral climate) is a type of climate that corresponds to the Köppen climate classification category subtype "Am". Tropical monsoon climates have monthly mean temperatures above 18 °C (64 °F) in every month of the year and a dry season.: 200–1 Tropical monsoon climates is the intermediate climate between the wet Af (or tropical rainforest climate) and the drier Aw (or tropical savanna climate) in terms of dryness.
A tropical monsoon climate's driest month has on average less than 60 mm, but more than . This is in direct contrast to the drier tropical savanna climate, whose driest month has less than 60 mm of precipitation and also less than of average monthly precipitation, as well as the wetter tropical rainforest climate with the driest month's rainfall above 60mm. In essence, a tropical monsoon climate tends to either have more rainfall than a tropical savanna climate or have less pronounced dry seasons, but still has a dry season unlike a tropical rainforest climate. A tropical monsoon climate tends to vary less in temperature during a year than does a tropical savanna climate because they are found closer to the equator. This climate has a driest month which nearly always occurs at or soon after the winter solstice, with monsoons normally giving precipitation in the summer instead .
There are generally two versions of a tropical monsoon climate:
- Less pronounced dry seasons. Regions with this variation of the tropical monsoon climate typically see heavy and copious amounts of rain during the wet season(s), usually in the form of frequent thunderstorms. Unlike most tropical savanna climates, a less but still sizeable amount of precipitation also falls during the dry season(s). In essence, this version of the tropical monsoon climate generally has less pronounced dry seasons than tropical savanna climates.
- Extraordinarily rainy wet seasons and pronounced dry seasons. This variation features pronounced dry seasons similar in length and character to dry seasons observed in tropical savanna climates. This is followed by a sustained period (or sustained periods) of extraordinarily high rainfall. In some instances, up to (and sometimes in excess of) 1,000 mm of precipitation is observed per month for two or more consecutive months. Tropical savanna climates generally do not see this level of sustained rainfall in the wet seasons.
Tropical monsoon are most commonly found in Africa (West and Central Africa), Asia (South and Southeast Asia), central of South America and Central America. This climate also occurs in sections of the Caribbean, North America, and northern Australia.
The major controlling factor over a tropical monsoon climate is its relationship to the monsoon circulation. The monsoon is a seasonal change in wind direction. In Asia, during the "summer" (or high-sun season) there is an onshore flow of air (air moving from ocean toward land) bringing oceanic precipitation. In the “winter” (or low-sun season) an offshore air flow (air moving from land toward water) is prevalent, drying the affected area. The change in direction is due to the difference in the way water and land heat and wind blows.
Changing pressure patterns that affect the seasonality of precipitation also occur in Africa though it generally differs from the way it operates in Asia. During the high-sun season, the Intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) induces rain. During the low-sun season, the subtropical high creates dry conditions. The monsoon climates of Africa, and the Americas for that matter, are typically located along tradewind coasts, directly equatorward of tropical savanna climates.