Over 26 per cent of India continued to reel under drought in November - same as in October - even as the 11th month of the calendar year was the warmest November on record. 

The January-November period is also the warmest on record, weather agencies of the US and European Union have said. 

“Drought conditions were confirmed over northern, eastern, and coastal southwestern parts of India on the India Drought Monitor, covering about 26.4 per cent of the nation, which is about the same as last month,” said the National Centres for Environmental Information (NCEI), an arm of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Rain deficit area shrinks

More regions in India didn’t come under drought in November since the North-East monsoon gathered momentum with rain deficient areas shrinking to 43 per cent this month from over 63 per cent of the 713 districts from where the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) got data. 

Attributing the trend to the El Nino weather phenomenon, which brings prolonged dry periods and drought in Asia, the NCEI said global crop monitor indicated that agriculture was most threatened in parts of the Americas, Africa, Europe, southern Asia, and parts of Australia. 

In India, El Nino impacted the South-West monsoon, which turned out to be deficient and affected kharif crops production. Its impact on the rabi crops is yet to be assessed though the acreage has dropped by three per cent this year. 

“The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNet) revealed significant food insecurity continuing in parts of Central and South America, Southwest Asia, and much of Africa,” it said.

Nov 1.75 °C warmer

But, “November was wetter than normal” across large swathes of Asia, with drier-than-normal areas occurring over parts of southwest, southern, and east-central Asia, it said.

Despite this development NCEI and European Union’s weather monitoring agency Copernicus said November 2023 was the warmest on record globally. 

“November 2023 was the warmest November on record globally, with an average surface air temperature of 14.22 °C, 0.85 °C above the 1991-2020 average for November and 0.32 °C above the temperature of the previous warmest November, in 2020,” Copernicus said. 

The global temperature anomaly for November 2023 was on a par with October 2023, and only lower than the September 2023 anomaly of 0.93 °C. “The month as a whole was about 1.75 °C warmer than an estimate of the November average for 1850-1900, the designated pre-industrial reference period,” it said.

Record high ocean, surface temps

NCEI said: “The November global surface temperature was 1.44 °C above the 20th-century average of 12.9 °C, making it the warmest November on record. This was 0.38°C above the previous record from November 2015.” 

November 2023 marked the 47th-consecutive November and the 537th-consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th-century average, it said.

November also saw a record-high monthly global ocean surface temperature for the eighth consecutive month. “Both land and ocean temperatures were at record-highs for the Northern Hemisphere this November,” NCEI said.

The US agency said the September–November period ranked the warmest in its 174-year record - a substantial leap (+0.39 °C) above the previous record from 2015. “The past ten September–November periods have been the ten warmest such periods on record,” it said.

SST anomaly abates

The September–November 2023 global surface temperature departure from average also marks the largest positive seasonal temperature anomaly on record, NCEI said.

Copernicus said the January-November global mean temperature for 2023 is the highest on record, 1.46 °C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average and 0.13 °C higher than the eleven-month average for 2016, currently the warmest calendar year on record.

The NCEI said according to its statistical analysis and data through November, “there is a greater than 99 per cent chance that 2023 will rank as the warmest year on record”.

Meanwhile, the Climate Prediction Center, another arm of NOAA, said sea surface temperatures (SST) were above average across the equatorial Pacific Ocean, increasing in the central and east-central Pacific during November. 

However, the growth in SST anomalies abated in early December, a signal that El Nino might begin to loosen its grip.