Japan’s March 11 tsunami is an area of concern for scientists preparing India’s widely watched official monsoon forecast — slated for mid-April — but overall conditions appear favourable, the country’s top Met official told HT on Sunday.
The June-September rainfall system is critical for India, Asia’s third biggest economy, as two-thirds Indians depend on farm income and 60% of cropped areas do not have any source of irrigation.
The massive tsunami that struck Japan has roiled swathes of the Pacific Ocean, which could influence its surface temperatures. “How the Pacific Ocean will stabilize itself is important (for the monsoon),” Ajit Tyagi, the director-general of the India Meteorological Department told HT.
The Pacific Ocean is churning still and its temperatures need to be watched, Tyagi said, adding that if the churning throws cool waters it may boost the monsoon. The rains usually hit the Andamans, its first port of call in a four-month journey across India -- around May-end.
Oceanic surface temperatures considerably influence the monsoon. In 2009, El Nino, a weather glitch marked by warming of Pacific waters, triggered India’s worst drought in three decades. Last year, La Nina conditions — or rapid cooling of Pacific waters and the opposite of El Nino — aided a normal monsoon.
“The good news is that La Nina conditions, though waning, are still there,” Tyagi said.
This year, the Met department will put out its forecast with inputs from the US scientists under a collaboration project. The Met department will train counterparts from five SAARC countries in monsoon predictions at the
South Asian Climate Outlook Forum to be held in Pune on April 13-15.