Will El Nino hit monsoon? Odds are 50-50 so far

Discussion in 'Economy & Infrastructure' started by Yusuf, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Mar 24, 2009
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    I hope it El Niño stays away. Not good news for an already slowed down economy


    NEW DELHI: The odds of an El Nino phenomenon developing in July through September and potentially affecting the Indian monsoon are dead-even at 50-50, offering hope that India's agriculture and economy may yet escape a crippling blow.

    A stuttering economy has seen heightened attention on the Pacific warming, known to disrupt the southwest monsoon, as poor rains this year can be a further brake on growth, jeopardizing bonus farm production recorded in recent years.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a US federal agency that closely tracks the phenomenon's parameters, says in its latest forecast that the odds are evenly split. Indian experts tend to concur with the reading.

    "The evolving conditions, combined with model forecasts suggest that ENSO-neutral and El Nino are roughly equally likely during the late northern summer and fall. The forecast calls for ENSO-neutral conditions through JAS (July, August, September), followed by an approximately 50% likelihood for El Nino during the remainder of the year," the NOAA has said.

    ENSO stands for El Nino southern oscillation or variations in temperatures in the Pacific while "ENSO neutral" conditions imply lack of significant warming of waters to the depth of 300m that can lead to the condition manifesting itself.

    Weather models too are split down the middle: statistical ones favour neutral conditions while dynamical models point to an El Nino in the second half of 2012.

    "We are expecting some kind of warming as per dynamical models. However, June and July will be ENSO neutral," said a senior weather analyst. It is very difficult to make a precise judgment as there is no consensus so far. Dynamical models have better skills but we are not worried about El Nino conditions so far."

    Dr D S Pai, director of long-range forecasting at IMD in Pune, said, "We are still in the process of analysing data and so the April forecast made by IMD holds true. IMD does not make forecasts about the El Nino and we have to rely on predictions made by foreign meteorological departments. These are expected only after June 15 and IMD will issue a revised forecast around June 25."

    But the US and Australian agencies, with perhaps the best expertise in monitoring the complex El Nino, are being careful about the extent of warming and the strength of the phenomenon.

    "ENSO-neutral conditions prevailed in May 2012, following the dissipation of La Nina in April. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are currently near average across most of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and above-average in the far eastern Pacific," said NOAA.

    NOAA said oceanic heat content or average temperature became more strongly positive in May and low-level trade winds and convection over the central equatorial Pacific were also near average. "Collectively, these oceanic and atmospheric patterns indicate ENSO-neutral conditions," it said.

    The agency notes that tropical Pacific SST anomalies will warm further in the coming months with statistical models predicting neutral conditions and dynamic one pointing to an El Nino.

    "A majority of models predict ENSO-neutral to continue through the June-August (JJA) season. Thereafter, most of the dynamical models predict El Nino to develop during JAS, while the statistical models tend to favor the continuation of ENSO-neutral," the forecast said.


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