16 of 22 El Nino years in India resulted in drought-like situation | Latest News India


The India Meteorological Department (IMD) data covering the past 122 years shows India has experienced 22 El Nino year occurrences since 1901, and 16 of these resulted in drought-like conditions because of below normal monsoon rainfall. India reported normal monsoon rainfall in the remaining six years, underlining the impact of this weather condition on India’s monsoon cycle.

Commuters on the Pune-Bengaluru highway near Bavdhan had difficulty as rains lashed the area causing low visibility. (Kalpesh Nukte/HT PHOTO)
Commuters on the Pune-Bengaluru highway near Bavdhan had difficulty as rains lashed the area causing low visibility. (Kalpesh Nukte/HT PHOTO)

El Nino, characterised by the warming of oceanic waters in the Pacific Ocean, has far-reaching implications on global weather patterns. Scientists and meteorologists are studying its influence on India’s monsoon season and potential to disrupt rainfall patterns and trigger drought conditions.

This year, the forecast by scientists of India facing the effects of El Nino in its monsoon cycle may impact the agricultural sector.

Also Read: Delhi enjoyed its coolest May in 36 years, says IMD

The data released by the weather department states that the monsoon rainfall recorded in 1902, 1905, 1951, 1965, 1972, 1982, 1987, 2002, 2004, 2009 and 2015 was less than normal by more than 10 per cent. The highest monsoon rainfall departure was 24,22 ,19 and 18 per cent recorded in 1972, 2002, 1965 and 2009 respectively.

Unpredictable effect

KS Hosalikar, head, IMD, Pune said, “When we analyse the data, every time we cannot say that there is an impact on the Indian monsoon cycle due to El Nino. There are many El Nino years in which we have received good rainfall. The data shows that there is a 60-40 per cent probability of El Nino impact on our rainfall cycle.”

The impact of El Nino on India’s monsoon cycle is complex and variable, making accurate forecasting a challenge. El Nino events on many occasions in the past have resulted in below-average rainfall across many parts of the country, leading to water scarcity, crop failure, and agricultural distress. The consequences extend beyond the farming community, affecting the overall economy and food security.

Ramchandra Sabale, senior meteorologist in agriculture field, said, “The data shows severe famine was reported during 1965, 1972, 2002 and 2009 in India. Hence, whenever there was an active El Nino, we had faced severe drought as a result of low rainfall during monsoon. The government should take drought mitigation steps as the country goes to Lok Sabha polls next year.”

“It is too early to say anything about El Nino as is in the developing stage and we are monitoring it. We request farmers to follow IMD updates about monsoon situation, Hosalikar said.

According to IMD scientists, its weather department, along with similar agencies across the world, is monitoring the development of El Nino and its potential effects on India.

Mitigation steps

In response to the looming threat, many state governments have already begun implementing measures to mitigate the impact of El Nino. These measures include promoting water conservation techniques, encouraging crop diversification, and improving irrigation infrastructure, use of adverse crop varieties. Additionally, contingency plans are devised to provide relief and support to affected regions in the event of drought conditions.

Farmers across the country are being advised to stay updated with weather forecast and adopt climate-resilient farming practices. The government is also exploring options for crop insurance schemes and financial assistance to mitigate the losses incurred by farmers during droughts.

Shrikant Kuwalekar, agricultural commodities expert, said, “Considering the current condition of reservoirs, we can somehow manage for kharif season. If El Nino is activated in September-October, it will impact rabi seasonal crops. Even after that there is no impact on food security because when we are facing El Nino’s impact here in India, at that time exact opposite climatic situation will be observed in North and South American continent (they may receive ample rainfall). Hence, these regions can produce good agricultural produce to feed the world. So, I don’t think we have to face food security issue.”

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