Scientists at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Bhopal, have developed a statistical model that can predict summer temperatures and extended climate anomalies in India, using the weather data from the preceding winter.

Research groups from all over the world are involved in developing models for climate prediction in different time (months/years) and spatial (regional/global) scales using known data from the past and scientific understanding about the physical and dynamic processes of climate evolution.

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The research was led by Pankaj Kumar, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, IISER Bhopal. The model study has been recently published in the International Journal of Climatology , in a paper co-authored by Pankaj Kumar and research scholar Aditya Kumar Dubey.

Pankaj Kumar, in a statement said, “With climate change and global warming being increasingly recognised as a threat to the ecosystem, socio-economy and, perhaps, life itself, it is important to understand and be able to predict seasonal patterns for better preparedness.”

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Funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the IISER Bhopal team’s model predicts the temperature of an Indian summer season (March-April-May or MAM) using weather data from the previous winter (December-January-February). The model, apart from predicting summer temperatures, has also helped in understanding the relationships among various weather parameters and how they have dynamically co-evolved over the past 69 years.

Predictability better for South India

The researchers have used parameters such as the sea surface temperature, sea level pressure, zonal wind, precipitation, and maximum, minimum, and average air temperatures from the previous winter, to predict the summer temperatures throughout India.

The researchers have also shown that the summer temperature predictability is better for South India than North, due to the former’s proximity to the ocean and the greater impact of the sea surface temperature on summer heat in the subcontinent.

Because of the effect of the sea surface temperature, South India has been found to be warmer during El-Niño years and cooler during La-Nina. The North Indian summer, on the other hand, is affected by the high pressure and circulation systems at upper levels, which form a heat dome and lead to adiabatic heating, thereby pushing up the summer temperature, irrespective of the El-Niño or La-Nina effect.