Monthly rain falling on the Indian Ocean is mapped for the period 1979 through 1981 by means of observations of the Nimbus-7 Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer. Both stationary and mobile parts were found in the pattern of rain. The stationary part consisted of three zonal and two meridional bands. Only one, the band along and south of the equator, maintained a strong presence through all seasons. A north equatorial counterpart to this south equatorial band also was persistent, but weak. The mobile part of the pattern took the form of a wave. The locus of this wave was an eastward-tilted figure eight, which straddled the equator. The wave moved clockwise along the north loop of the figure eight, counterclockwise along the south loop. The crest of the wave crossed the equator from south to north in May or June and crossed the equator from north to south between August and October. Along its path the equatorial bands were alternately amplified and damped, and the transient bands were activated and suppressed. The effect of the bands and wave was to produce a strong “monsoon” (annual cycle, summer peak) signature in rain falling over both the northeastern and southwestern reaches of the Indian Ocean.

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Footnotes

*Current affiliation: Institute of Atmospheric Physics, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.