El Nino may set in by August

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on June 03, 2014 Published on June 03, 2014


70% chance of the weather phenomenon occurring, say US & Australian agencies

El Nino, a weather effect that leads to drought in parts of Asia and Australia and failure of the south-west monsoon in India, will set in by August, the US and Australian weather offices have said.

“The chance of El Nino increases during the remainder of 2014, exceeding 65 per cent by summer (June-July-August) and peaking near 80 per cent during the late fall/early winter,” said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an arm of the US Department of Commerce. “The tropical Pacific Ocean remains on track for El Nino in 2014, with just over half of the climate models surveyed by the Bureau (of Meteorology) suggesting El Nino will become established by August. An El Nino alert remains in place, indicating at least a 70 per cent chance,” the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement on Tuesday.

Sea surface temperature

El Nino is caused by the rise in the sea surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean. While causing drought in Asia, Africa, South America and Australia, it leads to floods in North America.

Sea surface temperature anomalies in the tropical Pacific Ocean have increased steadily since February, and are now greater than +0.5 degrees Celsius in the key weather regions, said the Australian weather body.

But the above-average sea surface temperatures also extend into the western tropical Pacific, which means tropical Pacific anomalies are yet to become established, it said.

On the other hand, NOAA said sea surface temperatures are above-average across the equatorial Pacific Ocean and tropical rainfall is near-average across Indonesia and the tropical Pacific. Therefore, chance of El Nino has increased during the remaining part of the year.

Since March, the sea surface temperatures (SSTs) have been above average, especially in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and in the last four weeks, above-average equatorial SSTs were observed across the Pacific near Indonesia, in the western Indian Ocean, and in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, the US weather body said.

The India Meteorological Department, in its outlook for this year’s monsoon, said there is a 60 per cent chance of El Nino developing after July. It has predicted a below normal monsoon.

The South-West monsoon makes up 46 per cent of the country’s average annual rainfall, with pre-monsoon contributing 20 per cent and North-East monsoon, the rest.

For the summer or kharif crop, the South-West monsoon holds the ace, particularly for rice. Over 80 per cent of the country’s rice production comes from the kharif season, which also contributes two-thirds of oilseeds output.

The Agriculture Ministry has set a target of 94 million tonnes for the kharif season.

Soyabean, the country’s top oilseed, and groundnut are both key kharif crops.

Any failure of the monsoon could result in inflation surging. In April, inflation rose to 8.59 per cent, forcing the RBI to keep its policy rates unchanged.

Published on June 03, 2014
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