India’s Monsoon Winds Have Blown For Nearly 13 Million Years

Changing climate and mountains created the unique weather

Monsoon rains in Chennai
Monsoon rains in Chennai, India. A new study indicates that strong monsoons, which are a seasonal shift in wind direction, have visited the region for nearly 13 million years.Flickr user McKay Savage

India's monsoon winds kicked into gear 12.9 million years ago, indicates a new study published in Scientific Reports.

Every year, changes in temperature between land and sea spur winds over the Indian subcontinent to switch direction, bringing heavy rains along for the ride. To trace the winds’ history, scientists have examined the piles of sediment deposited on the floor of the Indian Ocean every year by monsoon-driven currents.

The team proposes that the rise of the Himalayan Mountains and a cooling climate likely created conditions that allowed the monsoon to take shape. An older, weaker version of the seasonal shifting winds likely snowballed into the monsoon’s present-day strength over a swift (geologically speaking) 300,000 years.