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Climate Change

Explainer: Why El Nino Is A Concern For Indian Monsoon Rains?

El Nino is a weather phenomenon that occurs when ocean temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean rise above normal

Explainer: Why El Nino Is A Concern For Indian Monsoon Rains?
Below normal rainfall could further stoke food inflation

Mumbai: India’s weather office has forecast normal monsoon rainfall in 2023. However, a 90% likelihood of an El Nino weather pattern developing during the June-September monsoon season raises the possibility of less than normal rain. In the past, India has experienced below-average rainfall during most El Nino years, sometimes leading to severe drought that destroyed crops and forced authorities to limit the export of some food grains.

What Is El Nino? How Does It Affect India’s Monsoon?

El Nino is a weather phenomenon that occurs when ocean temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean rise above normal. The warming causes changes in atmospheric patterns, leading to a weakening of the monsoon circulation over the Indian subcontinent. As a result, the Indian monsoon tends to be weaker and less reliable during El Nino years.

Also Read: ‘Meri LiFE’ App Launched To Catalyze Youth Action For Climate Change

How Close Is The Correlation Between El Nino And Monsoon Rain?

The correlation between El Nino and Indian monsoon rainfall is significant, despite occasional instances when India gets normal or above-normal rain during El Nino years. Over the past seven decades, the El Nino weather pattern occurred 15 times, with India experiencing normal or above-normal rainfall in six instances. However, a contrasting trend has emerged in the last four El Nino years, with India consistently facing drought conditions and rainfall falling below 90% of the long period average.

El Nino events are categorised according to the magnitude of temperature rise above normal, as weak, medium or strong.

In 2009, a weak El Nino led to a significant reduction in India’s rainfall, plummeting to 78.2% of normal, the lowest recorded in 37 years. Conversely, in 1997, a strong El Nino occurred, yet India received 102% of its normal rainfall. Weather models are suggesting 2023 El Nino could be strong.

Also Read: Climate Change: Cyclones Intensifying And Retaining Strength For Longer Duration

Why Is The Monsoon Important?

The monsoon is vital for India, providing about 70% of annual rain and impacting key crops such as rice, wheat, sugarcane, soybeans, and peanuts. Agriculture contributes about 19% to India’s $3 trillion economy and employs more than half of the 1.4 billion population.

The monsoon’s influence extends beyond agriculture, affecting the wider economy. Sufficient rain boosts overall economic growth, helping to control food price inflation, which has recently risen and led to higher lending rates.

Increased agricultural production could also ease export restrictions on sugar, wheat, and rice. Conversely, drought requires importing food and maintaining export restrictions. In 2009, poor rains forced India to import sugar, driving global prices to record highs.

Also Read: India’s Cost Of Adapting To Climate Change Needs Seen At $1 Trillion By 2030 – Report 

How Does The Monsoon Affect Inflation And Central Bank Policy?

Food accounts for nearly half of India’s consumer price index, which the central bank closely monitors while deciding on monetary policy. India received normal or above normal rainfall for the four straight years, still prices of cereals, dairy products and pulses have jumped in recent months and forced the Reserve Bank of India to increase lending rates sharply.

Below normal rainfall could further stoke food inflation.

Why Is The Monsoon Important For Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ahead Of A 2024 General Election?

Modi remains popular nine years since he came to power but opinion polls suggest rising inflation and unemployment threaten to erode his approval rating. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party lost a key state election last week. Several northern and central states are holding assembly elections ahead of a general election due in mid-2024.

Good rainfall will lift farmers’ incomes and help to keep a check on inflation. Drought could add to anti-incumbency sentiment.

Also Read: Countries, Corporations Exploring Innovative Approaches To Tackle Climate Change: Financial Services Secretary

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diarrhoea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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