The differences in a tropical monsoon & a tropical rainforest

Written by sandra johnson
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The differences in a tropical monsoon & a tropical rainforest
Dense vegetation is common in tropical climates. (Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Both tropical monsoons and tropical rainforests are climates commonly associated with high humidity and dense vegetation. While both experience abundant precipitation compared to other climates, there are key differences between the two. For example, tropical rainforests require certain geological features. Monsoons only get large rainfalls during certain times of the year. Other differences include seasonal and weather cycles as well as geographic location.

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Tropical Climate Geography

Tropical rainforests are typically found around the equator. Such climates are also found along coastal regions with large mountain ranges to one side and exposure to trade winds on the other. Tropical monsoons are found in coast areas. Southwest Africa and Brazil have long coastlines of primarily tropical monsoon climates. Southwest India and Bangladesh also have areas with tropical monsoon climates.

Features of a Tropical Rainforest Climate

The largest areas with tropical rainforest climates are the Congo in Africa and the Amazon in South America. Both of these areas are near the equator, providing a consistently high sun year-round. The seasons, as such, do not vary much from month to month. The average temperature range is 20 to 30 degrees Celsius. Rain falls in copious amounts year-round because of the high average temperatures and proximity to large bodies of water.

Features of a Tropical Monsoon Climate

Tropical monsoons are controlled by monsoons. A monsoon is a change in the direction of wind based on seasons. Such changes are called high-sun and low-sun seasons. During high-sun season, air moves from the ocean towards land. During low-sun season, the wind moves in the opposite direction, with air moving from land out to sea. These seasonal changes create seasons of high rain during the high-sun season and seasons of dry conditions during low-sun seasons. Rather than continuous rains, tropical monsoons experience seasons of excessive rain with periods of dry conditions. Temperatures seldom reach higher than 27.2 degrees Celsius.

Primary Differences Between Rainforest and Monsoon

The primary difference between a tropical monsoon climate and a tropical rainforest is the annual precipitation. Rainforests have above average precipitation year-round while tropical monsoons have rainy seasons. Additional differences include the controlling factors for each climate. Tropical monsoons are controlled by the change in air circulation while tropical rainforests are controlled by the angle of the sun. Both climates require access to coastlines with exposure to trade winds.

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