New Delhi: India is poised to experience the driest August since 1901 which, senior meteorologists say, is a clear result of intensifying El Nino conditions. Also, the monsoon this year may end up being the driest since 2015, which recorded a rainfall deficit of 13 per cent, they said. With a 32 per cent precipitation deficit in August so far and the prediction of only subdued rainfall activity over a large part of the country in the next three days, India is on track to record the driest August since 1901, an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said, requesting anonymity.
August receives 254.9 mm of rainfall, accounting for around 30 per cent of the precipitation during the monsoon season.
India recorded a rainfall deficit of 25 per cent in August 2005, 24.6 per cent in 1965; 24.4 per cent in 1920; 24.1 per cent in 2009 and 24 per cent deficit in 1913, according to the IMD data. IMD chief Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said the primary reason for below-normal rainfall in August was El Nino — the warming of waters in the Pacific Ocean near South America — besides the “unfavourable phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) which is known to reduce convection in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea”.
El Nino is generally associated with the weakening monsoon winds and dry weather in India. The MJO is a large-scale intraseasonal atmospheric disturbance originating in tropical Africa and travelling eastwards. It is like a pulse or wave lasting about 30 to 60 days.
During the active phase of the MJO, the atmosphere becomes more favourable for rainfall. This leads to increased cloud cover, stronger winds, and enhanced convective activity, resulting in heavier rainfall over the Indian subcontinent. Mr. Mohapatra said,
The favourable phase of MJO results in rainfall even if there is no low-pressure system. July recorded above-normal rainfall due to the favourable phase of MJO.
Only two low-pressure systems developed over the Bay of Bengal (BoB) against a normal of five under the impact of the prevailing El Nino conditions, he said. He added,
Another reason for below-normal rainfall in August was a lower number of low-pressure systems in the South China Sea and they, too, moved northward.
Low-pressure systems that develop over the South China Sea typically move westward, reaching the north BoB after crossing Vietnam and Thailand.
Owing to the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), the outlook for September is not very bleak, Madhavan Rajeevan, former secretary at the Ministry of Earth Sciences, told PTI. He said,
September is not expected to be as bad as August. Models suggest the September rainfall will be on the lower side of the normal.
The senior meteorologist said El Nino is the primary reason for the high rainfall deficit in August. He said,
The absence of the positive phase of MJO must have also played a marginal role.
At a press conference on August 1, the IMD had said El Nino and other unfavourable conditions may suppress rain in August, though cumulative precipitation in the second half of the monsoon season (August-September) is expected to be normal. Mr. Mohapatra had said,
Rainfall in September is likely to be on the lower side (94 per cent to 99 per cent) of the normal (422.8 mm).
Rainfall recorded between 94 per cent and 106 per cent of the long-period average (LPA), or 50-year average, is considered normal.
Normal rainfall is critical for India’s agricultural landscape, with 52 per cent of the net cultivated area relying on it. Additionally, it plays a crucial role in replenishing reservoirs essential for drinking water and power generation throughout the country.
Rainfed agriculture contributes to approximately 40 per cent of the country’s total food production, making it a vital contributor to India’s food security and economic stability.
(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 – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) 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, fightmalnutrition, 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 likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.