Updated February 11th, 2024 at 18:29 IST

India Could Witness Bountiful Monsoon This Year, El Nino Conditions Suggest

Indian weather experts have said that La Nina conditions setting in by June-August could mean monsoon rains would be better this year as compared to last year.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Experts say monsoon season in India this year could be signficantly wetter than last year. | Image:ANI
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NEW DELHI: After a below-normal rainy season last year, India may finally see a “bountiful” monsoon this year according to experts. Last week, at least two global meteorological experts said that El Nino, the warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that impacts weather across the world, has started to weaken and there is a probability of La Nina conditions setting in by August. Experts in India have said that La Nina conditions setting in by June-August could result in a significantly wetter monsoon this year as compared to 2023. At the same time, experts have tempered this optimism with a note of caution, citing the 'spring predictability barrier', considered a forecasting headache as weather models have a harder time making accurate forecasts.

Madhavan Rajeevan, former secretary in the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said there is a good probability of La Nina developing by June-July.

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"Even if El Nino transitions into ENSO-neutral conditions, the monsoon this year should be better than the last year," he said.

The southwest monsoon delivers about 70 per cent of India's annual rainfall, critical for the agriculture sector that accounts for about 14 per cent of the GDP and employs more than half of its 1.4 billion population.

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The United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said last week that there is a 79 per cent chance that El Nino will transition to ENSO-neutral by April-June and a 55 per cent chance of La Nina developing in June-August.

The European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) confirmed that El Nino has started weakening. La Nina is the cyclic counterpart to El Nino.

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"Currently, we cannot say anything with certainty. Some models indicate La Nina, while some predict ENSO-neutral conditions. However, all models suggest an end to El Nino," D Sivananda Pai, a senior scientist at the India Meteorological Department, said.

NOAA, the American national forecaster, said there was a historical tendency for La Nina to follow strong El Nino events.

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"The forecast team is in agreement with the latest model guidance, with some uncertainty around the timing of transitions to ENSO-neutral and, following that, La Nina," the US agency said.

Assuming El Nino continues through the first half of 2024, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) earlier predicted that 2024 would be warmer than 2023, Pai said.

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"If La Nina develops, 2024 would not be warmer than 2023," he said.

Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, said the latest forecasts indicate a quick transition to La Nina by June, which could result in an on-time and bountiful monsoon.

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"At the same time, if high temperatures continue, it would mean intense cyclones and extreme rains too," he said.

Koll said global temperature anomalies might continue despite the transition.

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"We might think that a La Nina might result in a symmetrical effect, but it doesn't have the same intensity as that of an El Nino. So the cooling-compensation effect that we might expect will be subdued. In fact, we have had warmer years during La Nina in the recent period, warmer than El Nino years in the past," the scientist said. 

With inputs from PTI. 

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Published February 11th, 2024 at 18:29 IST