Climate Change

Drought watch: Is there any monsoon effect?

A deficit in July rainfall has been associated with six of India’s worst droughts between 1877 and 2005

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 09 July 2019
Photo: Getty Images

After a delayed onset and slow progress, monsoon has now advanced to most parts of India. Yet the amount of rainfall received has been largely deficient. 

July, which accounts a third of the total — the highest rainfall in the monsoon season — witnessed a 21 per cent deficit rainfall till July 7, 2019. A deficit in July rainfall has historically been associated with an overall deficit monsoon and severe droughts.

The latest data on drought showed that more than 42 per cent of the country is facing abnormally dry to exceptionally dry conditions. Of this, ‘severe to exceptionally dry conditions’ prevailed in 17.31 per cent area, according to data from Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) — a real-time drought monitoring platform — on July 5, 2019.

The percentage is also significantly higher than the same period last year when 8.82 per cent area was under ‘severe to exceptionally dry conditions’, out of 35.18 per cent area experiencing drought.

While just 1.13 per cent of area had ‘exceptionally dry’ conditions by July 7 last year, the figure has jumped to 6.43 per cent, according to the monitoring platform.

In fact, the figure has increased by 0.22 percentage points when compared to same period last month — from 6.21 per cent on June 5 to 6.43 per cent on July 5.

The situation was abysmal in June as India witnessed the second-driest pre-monsoon season in the last 65 years. It was supposed to improve with monsoon showers progressing in July. However, the scant rainfall in July, there was just marginal improved in dry conditions — from 45.18 per cent area on June 28 to 42.92 per cent on July 5.

From June 1 to July 7 this year, 20 states have witnessed deficient rainfall and three are in ‘large deficient’ category, according to data from India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Deficient rainfall in July has caused six of India’s worst droughts between 1877 and 2005, according to analysis of IMD rainfall data by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.

If the deficit continues, more than 44 per cent of India's areas that experienced a drought in June are likely to face drought conditions for the next 24 months.

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