El Nino may hit monsoon this year

Deficit in monsoon, if triggered by El Nino, will severely impact India’s economy

By Vani Manocha
Published: Friday 04 April 2014


The emergence of the El Nino weather phenomenon is likely to coincide with the monsoon season (June-September) this year, India Metrological Department’s (IMD) Regional Climate Centre in Pune said in its Seasonal Climate Outlook for South Asia (April-July) report, released this week. The weather bureau is likely to release its forecast for June-September monsoon rains, which bring about 70 per cent of India's total rainfall, around April 25.

Earlier this year, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and US agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center had warned that there was a possibility of El Nino developing in the equatorial Pacific Ocean mid-2014. The Australian Weather Office, widely respected for its forecasts, said the outlook for El Nino had increased.

IMD has made it clear that there are equal chances of neutral or weak El Nino conditions during later part of the summer. The weather department has, however, refused to comment on the possibility of below normal rains this year due to El Nino.

“During the season April to June, wetter than normal conditions are likely over most parts of India, Afghanistan, north Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. However, during the season May to July, normal to drier than normal conditions are likely, over most parts of south Asia except extreme north India, adjoining north Pakistan and north Afghanistan,” the IMD report said.

The forecast would mean a lot to the economy as a negative monsoon, triggered by El Nino, could bring a drought. It has already been reported that unusually high winter rainfall, in parts of north India this year, has damaged apple and almond orchards and raised concerns about the upcoming wheat harvest.

What is El Nino?

El Nino/La Nina-Southern Oscillation or ENSO is an ocean-atmospheric phenomenon that occurs in a cycle. La Nina, which is one part of the cycle, is signified by a decrease of 3-5°C in sea surface temperature across the Equatorial Pacific Ocean and it is favourable for monsoons in India. El Nino, which is La Nina’s counter-phenomenon, is often accompanied by drought in India and heavy rainfall in the Pacific coast of Latin America.


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