India drought may impact over billion people, active typhoon season expected

  • Vanita Srivastava, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 29, 2015 21:34 IST

A very active typhoon season, combined with drought in much of India, could have a significant impact on lives and property for more than a billion people in Asia during the summer of 2015, a US based global weather forecasting system says in its summer forecast for Asia.

The forecast was made public on Thursday.

According to Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls, "A phenomenon known as El Nino is forecast to strengthen over the summer."
El Nino is a warm phase of the fluctuation of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean and usually leads to an above-average number of typhoons and super typhoons.

The major finding was that the strengthening El Nino would be a major factor for the upcoming season. El Nino conditions normally have a detrimental impact on the southwest monsoon in India.

The only wild card is the water temperatures in the Indian Ocean, the researchers say.

"Some models suggest warming of waters off western Africa which is good for enhancing rainfall across India, but most indications are this warming in the western Indian Ocean will be too weak to offset the moderate to strong El Nino. Also, there has been a recent cooling trend of the waters in the northern Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal," says Jason.

"These waters were warmer than normal for much of the winter into spring, but have now cooled to below normal in recent weeks. This cooling of the waters in the Bay and Arabian Sea have also proved worrisome."

Maintaining that there was a significant typhoon threat to target Eastern Asia Islands, it says here is no way to predict accurately the timing, strength and location of individual tropical systems months in advance.

According to AccuWeather Meteorologist Anthony Sagliani, "In addition to El Niño, we have warmer-than-average waters extending well north and west of the tropics in the Pacific, which will create lower atmospheric pressure and a favorable environment for tropical system formation."

"In addition to the higher-than-average number of typhoons expected, we also anticipate more long-tracking typhoons, which will have a greater chance of being strong and impacting multiple land areas along their path," Sagliani said.

Observing that drought would grow in India as monsoon shuts down it says: "As the Pacific Basin churns out typhoons this summer and autumn, conditions over the Indian Ocean Basin will likely displace and disrupt the monsoon."

"While there will be some rainfall on the region, the pattern could evolve into significant drought and negatively impact agriculture from central India to much of Pakistan," Nicholls said.

A key to how severe and long-lasting the drought may be in India may be water temperatures in the western part of the Indian Ocean.

"If water temperatures in the western part of the Indian Ocean warm more quickly than anticipated, then rainfall will be enhanced across India, thus alleviating drought fears," Nicholls said.

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