Climate in south East Asia Essay

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Climate of South East Asia


            Southeast Asia is a sub region of Asia, which is surrounded by China in the north, India in the west and Australia in the north. The region can further be subdivided into two main geographic divisions, the main land and archipelagoes. Countries like Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and parts of Malaysia lie in the main land, while Indonesia, parts of Malaysia and The Philippines lie in the archipelagoes. These countries have been included in this region because they all posses the same demographic and topographic characteristics i.e. the people, the culture, the landmass and the climate. This paper will discuss the overall climate of the Southeast Asian countries including the factors, which influence the climate as well as the possible natural calamities, which may or may not occur in the region.

Climate of South East Asia:

            The climate of Southeast Asia in general is controlled by the monsoon winds, which blow in the region throughout the year. Monsoons are topical winds that blow from the sea towards the mainland and results in heavy rainfall, primarily because they bring water vapors from the sear. The steady blowing monsoon throughout the year in the region means steady and large amounts of precipitation, very humid climate with a little variation in the temperatures and lush green forests. These forests are called Southeast Asian rainforests. The monsoons, which, control the regional climate, are further divided into four seasons, the winter northeast monsoon, and the summer southwest monsoon while two intermonsoon seasons. The winter monsoon wind blows from the north and northeast and brings typhoons and other extreme weather conditions. This weather lasts for 5 months between November and March. The summer monsoon season is between May and September. The winds are not as hard as they were in the last season and precipitation is much less than the previous season. During the intermonsoon seasons the air is much lighter but there is not much variation in temperature.

            Myanmar (Burma) is the most distinct in the Southeast Asian countries regarding its climate. The difference in the climate of Burma is mainly because of its geographic position and relief. The weather of the northern mountains is extremely cold in the winter and snow falls at least a couple of months in that region. These mountain ranges save the rest of the country from the extreme cold winds blowing from central Asia and the country remains under the influence of monsoon winds. The specific north-south alignment of mountain ranges and valleys results in alternate zones of heavy and light rainfall. But the primary factor involved in bring most of the heavy rainfall in the country are the southwest monsoon winds. Burma has three seasons. Cool season, which is relatively dry, during which the northeast wind blows it lasts from late October to mid-February. The hot, dry intermonsoonal season from mid-February to mid-May and the rainy southwest monsoon season from mid-May to mid-October. The rainfall in the coastal region is more than 200 inches annually while in the northern mountain region it drops to as low as 20 inches annually. The daily temperature range is greater than all other parts of Southeast Asia. The average temperature in Mandalay is 28° C, 27° C at Yangôn, 26° C in Arakan and 22 at Lashio, Shan Plateau.

            Cambodia also has two seasons, which are influenced by two major monsoon winds. During the summer i.e. from May to October strong southwest winds bring large amount of precipitation as well as high levels of humidity. From November to March the northeast winds bring drier and less humid weather. The country sustains high maximum temperatures throughout the year ranging between 28° C to 32° C. The annual rainfall in the coastal slopes of the highlands is up to 200 inches while in the central lowlands it falls below as low as 50 inches annually.

            The climate of Malaysia is typical equatorial influenced by the monsoons and like Burma have four seasons northwest, southeast and to intermonsoon seasons. The climate is also affected by the topographic patterns also affect the climate change. The overall precipitation is between 200 inches to as low as 50 inch annually. Average high temperatures are 25°-28°C in the peninsula and 31°-33°C in the coastal areas.

            The Philippines also had a monsoonal climate and in influenced by northeast between December to May and southwest monsoon winds during May to November. The mean temperatures are nearly constant throughout the year the seasons are identified as periods of dry and wet weather. The southwest monsoon wind brings with itself the typhoons, which strike the archipelago and cause great loss of life and property. Mindanao is the only region, which is approximately free from typhoons. Though during the hot dry season the temperature may rise high but the regions of high elevations enjoy a pleasant climate throughout the year.

            Indonesia also has nearly the same climate as that of Philippines with two monsoon seasons and constant temperature throughout the year.

            Laos also enjoys the same equatorial climate with a constant temperature throughout the year, thought the mountain ranges shows much variation in temperatures. The rainy season is between the months of May and October caused by the southwest monsoon winds. Average rainfall is between 50 to 90 inches though the highest rainfall is 160 inches in Bolovens Plateau. Minimum temperature average is between 16° and 21°C while in the summer season the temperature may rise a high as 32. During the rainy season the average temperature is 27°C.

            Thailand also is in the tropical monsoon zone and thus is affected by the southwest and northeast monsoons. The country also observes two intermonsoon seasons in March and September. Topographic affects are more noticeable in the peninsular Thailand where the west coast receives heavy rainfalls while the east coast receive very scanty rainfall. The average mean temperature of the country is nearly constant throughout the year ranging between 25° and 29°C. The greatest variation in temperature occurs in north where frost may occur in the month of December, while the seas make the weather of the coastal areas mild and moderate.

            The climate of Vietnam is partly tropical climatic and partly topical monsoon. In the north there is great fluctuation in the temperature between the summer and winter for example Hanoi has a mean temperature of 17°C in January while in the south the mean temperature of Ho Chi Minh City is 27°C. There are two rainy seasons in the country one during February and March, while the other during May and October. The winters are rather dry because of the northeastern wind. This results in cold dry weather in the north and hot dry weather in the south.

Natural Calamities and Disasters:

            Typhoons, floods resulting from heavy rains are common occurring in many parts of Southeast Asia. Philippines, Indonesia, Burma and Malaysia receive most of the typhoons during the year. In some parts of the region typhoons occur during the summer while in Burma they may also occur during the northeast monsoon season. Because some of the major fault lines run through the archipelagoes of the Southeast Asia these countries are also threatened by earthquakes and tsunamis. During the drier winter season the forest fires also erupt and result in a large quantity of loss of trees as well as disturbing the balance of the ecosystem.

            In recent years drought has also been a big problem of many parts of Southeast Asia and has resulted in the decline of important crops like rice, sugar, coffee etc. The wet season in the recent year is noted to be ending earlier then usual while the dry season has been steadily growing every year. Another problem is that the dry season is drier than normal and there have been a relatively low amount of precipitation in the region. Countries like Thailand have faced the worst drought in 2004 and as a result millions of farmers and millions of hectare of land was affected. This growing dry season has increased economic pressure on these drought-hit countries as they are now compelled to through out large amount of their foreign exchange in buying feeding crops like rice which they one exported.

Influence of the Climate on these Countries:

            In general these countries receive heavy rainfall through out the year and are fairly self-reliant in terms of feeding crops. Their evergreen forests and constant mild climate have made them the most attractive place for tourists from the entire world. That’s why tourism industry is one of the major resources of revenue of the Southeast Asian countries. Large amount of natural resources entitle them to develop fast in terms of industrial development. That’s why most of the Southeast Asian countries are highly industrialized.


            The Southeast Asia lies in the tropical monsoon climate zone and is characterized by heavy rainfalls, constant temperature, and dense evergreen forests. The region also sustains tropical typhoons, floods, storms and tsunamis. In recent years drought also has become an important calamitous phenomenon in the region.

Works Cited

“Cambodia.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopædia Britannica 2005

            Ultimate Reference Suite CD ROM.

Drought Continues in Southeast Asia. Production Estimates and Crop Assessment

Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA. 27th March 2005. Retrieved on

            18th January, 2008


“Laos.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopædia Britannica 2005 Ultimate

            Reference Suite CD ROM.

Lydia F. “Southeast Asian Climate, Tropical Moist Climate” 2002. Retrieved on17th

January, 2008 <>

“Malaysia.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopædia Britannica 2005 Ultimate

            Reference Suite CD ROM.

“Mayanmar.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopædia Britannica 2005

            Ultimate Reference Suite CD ROM.

“Philippines.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopædia Britannica 2005

            Ultimate Reference Suite CD ROM.

“Thailand.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopædia Britannica 2005 Ultimate

            Reference Suite CD ROM.

“Vietnam.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopædia Britannica 2005 Ultimate

            Reference Suite CD ROM.


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