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Will the climate cycle affect monsoon? Experts discuss

Updated : April 19, 2019 11:19:33 IST

While the Indian and international weather watchers have continued to update on the El-Nino concerns, its actual impact on the monsoon is still an uncertainty.

If you look at the monsoon in the El-Nino years like 2009, 2014 and 2015, it is a bit concerning scenario. In 2009, the monsoon deficiency stood at 22 percent, while in 2014 and 2015, it was between 12-14 percent.

Since 1901, the 20 droughts that India has seen, 13 of them have been in El-Nino years.

India receives 70 percent of its annual rainfall during the June to September months, more than 50 percent of India's arable land is not irrigated and depends on these months of rain. Thus, a lot of expectations are built around the overall monsoon forecasts, monthly distribution and region wise rains as well.

Even as IMD has predicted 2019 as near normal year for monsoon with 96 percent of LPA forecast, Skymet has put the forecast at 93 percent which is below normal. India has been recording below normal monsoon for the last couple of years, 2018 was 91 percent and 2017 was 95 percent.

Barring 2017 where the IMD and Skymet almost got it right, the other years were quite a divergence, where both the agencies do not agree with each other and the final actual number also is quite different.

2019 is an important year to watch as India has seen deficient monsoon in last two years, this also is an election year, the water tables are depleting and there are nearly 8 states which declared deficient monsoon last year and there is severe farm distress there.

CNBC-TV18 spoke with DS Pai, director of Met Department, Himanshu Goyal, India business leader of The Weather Company and GP Sharma, president of meteorology and climate change at Skymet, to discuss the monsoon situation for 2019.

Here's what they have to say:

Himanshu Goyal: We predicted a 95 percent monsoon way back in February and revised that in March to 93 percent with the rains starting in Kerala from around June 5. So, the effects of El-Nino which is the warming of water in Pacific as well as Indian Ocean dipole, so for these warming of the earth is definitely an issue which keeps these things moving. So, it is a moving target for every metrologist to track. We are sticking by at this point to around 93 percent but it is too early to say, we still have two months to go and things can change.

DS Pai: There is an inverse association between El-Nino and weak monsoon or below normal monsoon rainfall. However historically years like 1997 which was one of the strongest El-Nino of the decade, in fact, you can say it is the strongest El-Nino of the century but in that year monsoon rainfall over India was 102 percent. Similar was the case in 1994, the rainfall was almost 110 percent. So, there is no one to one relation between El-Nino and below normal rainfall. The El-Nino which we are observing right now which peaked in the late part of last year or early part of this year is almost similar to the year 1969. In 1969 the rainfall was almost 100 percent. So, the closest analogue to El-Nino of this year is the 1969 El-Nino. So, there is no one to one relation between El-Nino and weak monsoon.

GP Sharma: There is El-Nino which is fairly moderate at the moment. We also say that it looks like possibly it will reduce in intensity but then it will remain well above the threshold values which are there and that is good enough to take a note of it and it shows concern for the coming monsoon season. I am definitely not with the logic that rains are going to improve. I think we will start on a very poor note in June which will spill over even into July. We have got to watch out that is it going to harm any further, that is in the second half? Skymet has given that the second half is going to be better.
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