Below normal monsoon predicted this year

El Nino effect

Below normal monsoon predicted this year

Most of India may experience “below normal” monsoon rainfall in 2014 and precipitation could dip significantly around July-August when the consequences of El Nino — an adverse climatic condition — may be felt in the maximum, suggests a scientific assessment on this year's monsoon.

Released on the eve of Indian Meteorological Department’s first official forecast on the 2014 South-West Monsoon, the new outlook indicates that barring two pockets in the Gangetic plains and east coast, the rest of the country is more likely to receive subdued rainfall in the coming months.

Apart from India, large tracts of South Asia too may receive sub-normal rainfall, says the consensus statement from South Asian Climate Outlook Forum that met in Pune this week.
The statement was prepared by weather scientists after taking into account monsoon assessments from several global and regional climate models, all of which are indicating a below normal rainfall.

The principal culprit is El Nino — an unusual warming up of the Pacific Ocean that plays havoc with weather throughout the world. “There is 60 per cent chance of El Nino reducing rainfall in India and South Asia,” D S Pai, senior scientist and monsoon forecaster at the Indian Meteorological Department, Pune, told Deccan Herald.

The outlook suggests a fairly large potential for an El Nino event, most likely by the end of the second quarter of 2014, when farmers require regular rainfall for crop sowing. Pockets that may be spared are eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, northern parts of West Bengal, most of the North-East, Odisha and north-coastal Andhra Pradesh.

Warm conditions developed in the equatorial Pacific around mid-April and are likely to continue over the next few weeks, leading to a full-fledged El Nino event in July-August. “While other climatic conditions are mostly neutral, it is the El Nino that will be the most crucial one,” Pai said.

El Nino conditions during the monsoon season are known to typically weaken the South Asian summer monsoon circulation and adversely impact rainfall over the region. But their impact on the regional rainfall distribution varies from year to year.

Even though many past droughts in India coincided with an El Nino event, all El Nino years did not lead to droughts. In the previous 10 El Nino years, India suffered a rainfall deficit of 10 per cent or more only in six.

For instance, 1997 was an El Nino year, but the rainfall was marginally higher than normal.

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