After two successive years of drought, a glimmer of hope finally seems to be appearing for the Indian monsoon. The first forecast for the monsoon rainfall this year is still three weeks away, but scientists are taking heart from the fact that a key indicator is showing signs of turning favourable in the coming days.
The most crucial is the El Nino phenomenon which is known to suppress rainfall over the Indian region. The El Nino, a reference to the unusual warming of the sea surface in equatorial Pacific Ocean, was blamed for last year’s drought and also the lack of rain this winter season. International climate models are now showing that this El Nino is finally getting weaker and is likely to be neutralised by May.
Moreover, there is a 50 per cent chance of a La Nina, the opposite of El Nino, developing by August, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Climate Prediction Centre of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States. La Nina, an unusual cooling of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, is known to enhance rainfall activity during the monsoon months in India.
Read | WHAT IS EL NINO?
However, El Nino is just one of the several factors that influence monsoon rainfall. A neutralisation of the El Nino does not necessarily mean good rainfall. In addition, there is a lag of about three to four months between the presence of El Nino condition and the impact of rainfall over India. So, if El Nino continues till May, it may still adversely affect the rainfall in June.
“On its own, the weakening of El Nino is good news. It does not immediately translate into a good monsoon but at least one negative factor would be out. We will have to see how the other indicators are behaving and that will become known only when the Indian Meteorological Department comes up with its forecast,” a weather scientist said. The first forecast of the IMD comes in the third week of April.