The monsoon season in India, characterized by seasonal reversal of winds and changes in precipitation, is crucial for the nation’s agricultural and economic prosperity.

However, climate change has brought about long-term alterations in temperature and wind patterns, leading to increased unpredictability in the Indian summer monsoon.


  • Rainfall Variability of Indian Monsoon: Contrary to the perception of increased rainfall, there has been a 6% decrease in monsoon rainfall over the past six decades, as reported by Indian Government and international climate change assessments.
  • Spatial Variability: Monsoon circulation has weakened since 1951, leading to localized heavy rainfall events and longer dry spells in certain regions.
  • Temporal Variability: Intense bursts of rainfall may fulfill statistical criteria for “normal” rainfall but offer little practical utility. Late monsoon withdrawal in 2021 has also been attributed to climate change.

Impact on ENSO and IOD:

  • Climate change has disrupted the El Nino-Southern Oscillations (ENSO) and Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) cycles, resulting in more frequent floods and droughts in the Indian subcontinent.
  • The disturbance in these natural climate drivers amplifies extreme weather events during the monsoon season.

Altered Monsoon Patterns and Their Causes:

  • Heat Pump Effect: Hot atmospheric dust particles from Middle Eastern deserts influence air pressure over the Arabian Sea, driving moisture towards the Indian subcontinent and leading to a wetter monsoon season (Warming Effect).
  • Solar Dimming Effect: Aerosol emissions from vehicle exhaust fumes and crop burning reduce sunlight intensity, offsetting rainfall in specific areas (Cooling Effect).
  • Global Warming: Increasing temperatures exacerbate extreme weather events during the Indian monsoon.

Multidimensional Impact of Altered Monsoon Patterns:

  • Agriculture: Erratic rainfall negatively affects crop yield, maturity, and can lead to diseases and crop failures. Extreme weather events like hailstorms cause additional damage.
  • Disasters: Altered monsoon patterns contribute to floods, landslides, and droughts in different regions, exemplified by the Chennai floods in November 2021.
  • Economy: Fluctuations in rainfall significantly impact crop yields, leading to repercussions on disposable income, consumption patterns, food security, and overall wellbeing.
  • Failing Climate Models: Climate change introduces additional complexities, rendering current models inadequate in predicting monsoon patterns.
  • Climate Refugees: Frequent crop failures and land desertification due to the altered monsoon pattern create the threat of climate-induced migration.


  • The altered pattern of the Indian monsoon due to climate change poses significant challenges to various sectors of India’s economy and society.
  • To mitigate the impact, a multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional approach is required, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, disaster management, and improved water management practices.
  • Policymakers must focus on both mitigation and adaptation strategies to ensure sustainable and inclusive development while safeguarding India’s economy, food systems, and people’s wellbeing in the face of a more chaotic monsoon season.
Legacy Editor Changed status to publish February 28, 2024