South Asia

Asian monsoon's range of devastation

Pakistan Ladakh China North Korea Map of events in Rothbury


At least 1,600 people have died in two weeks of floods that have affected about 14 million people.
More than 302,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed as flood waters sweep down the country along major rivers such as the Indus.


Ladakh flooding

At least 185 people have been killed by floods in the Ladakh region of Indian-administered Kashmir.
Four hundred people are missing and 80% of infrastructure is reported to be partially damaged or totally destroyed.


China flooding

Rain triggered landslides in the northwest county of Zhouqu on 7 August.
Reports say 702 were killed and 1,042 left missing.

North Korea

holding image for video content showing North Korean flooding

Floods in North Korea and northeast China buried farmland and destroyed homes, factories, railroads, and bridges.
Reports say more than 70 people died in China's Jilin province and 800,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

The Asian monsoon has brought unusually high levels of rain to the region, with catastrophic consequences in countries from Pakistan and India to North Korea and China.

Nasa has used satellite images from 1 to 9 August to show the intensity of rainfall compared to average rates for the same period in previous years.

The darker blue shows where rain was much more intense than usual; brown indicates less intense rainfall. Some regions have had as much as 24 millimetres of rain per day above normal.

In Khanpur, in Pakistan's Sindh district, for example, the average rainfall is 17.4mm for the whole month of August. So far, 255mm has fallen in 12 days.

The annual monsoon season, typically from June to September, is caused by the difference in temperature between the land and the sea.

As the Tibetan plateau warms up, heated air rises, drawing in moist air from the sea to replace it. This also warms, rises and the water condenses into rain.

The BBC Weather Centre says a kink in the jet stream of fast-moving air in the upper atmosphere has exacerbated conditions this year. More spiralling air in the upper atmosphere sucks in more moist air, causing larger clouds and more intense rainfall.

The jet stream and extreme weather

Recession Graph
A season of extreme weather from Russia to Pakistan has been linked to unusual distortions in the path of the jet stream - the high speed air currents that circulate the globe in the upper atmosphere.
Recession Graph
The jet stream divides cooler polar air and warmer subtropical air. A larger than usual kink in its path dragged warm air from the south across Russia. This resulted in a prolonged heatwave, drought and forest fires.
Recession Graph
The jet stream has also interacted with the Asian monsoon. Monsoons are caused by temperature differences between land and sea. Warm air rises off the land and moist air from the sea is drawn in, building into rain clouds.
Recession Graph
Normally, the jet stream would remain north of the monsoon region. But this year's kink meant more moist air than usual was sucked up. The effect passed in days, but the extra rain at the start of the season caused severe floods.
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