Friday, July 11, 2014

Why any monsoon revival from now on is just too late to prevent GDP and Agricultural Growth from slipping into the red

According to an ASSOCHAM study, with every one per cent deficit in rains, the country's gross domestic product (GDP) falls by 0.35 per cent. In monetary terms, a 10% deficiency shaves off Rs 360,000 crores from the country's GDP hurting lakhs of jobs, mostly in the unskilled sector. So, a good agricultural performance is a must for India to raise demand for services and industrial products, it said. A rise in farm sector is estimated to raise demand for industrial goods and services, it added. The study mentioned that about 30 per cent of the manufacturing sector is agriculture-based and a bumper crop ensures the supply of raw material for industry at relatively lower prices.

To understand how big impact this season’s monsoon failure is on the economy, just look at these scary statistics: 
Rainfall Deficiency for June: 43%
Rainfall Deficiency July 1-9:  41%
Sowing: 43% less than for 2013-2014
Applying the Assocham formula, the adverse impact of rainfall deficiency is summarized in the table below: 

Accordingly, even if the monsoon revives from now on as IMD is praying feverishly for, it is most likely that GDP growth would end up in the red.

More significantly, any monsoon revival from on cannot be expected to appreciably increase the sowing area as the sowing window for all practical purpose is now closed.  The monsoon is the main source of irrigation for India’s 263 million farmers because over 55 percent of crop land is rainfed.  The normal sowing window for Kharif crops is June 15 to July 15. Only a limited number of crops such as pulses, maize and some fodder crops can be sown in the period between July 15 and July 30.

Hence agriculture could act as a big drag on the overall economy this year by registering even upto a double digit negative growth rate, dragging down the GDP also into the red. 

Despite this dismal scenario, Arun Jaitley, India’s Finance Minister in his budget presented yesterday targeted an unbelievable 4% growth for agriculture and GDP of over 5% for 2014-2015 fiscal!!! Is this a height of optimism or ignorance? Take your pick..

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Typhoon Neoguri's slow movement increases its damage potential

Neoguri from a Super Typhoon weakened to Category 3 Typhoon and now further weakened to depression strength as it heads to Japanese mainland

(AssociatedPress) One of the biggest and strongest typhoons to hit during Japan's summer months churned past Okinawa toward the country's main islands on Wednesday, weakening slightly but dumping torrential rains in its wake. 

Forecasts for unusually heavy rains prompted a fresh emergency warning, as workers scrambled to clear drains and roads to minimize damage in Okinawa from the typhoon, which left 20 people injured, one seriously.

The Japan Meteorological Agency was forecasting that parts of Shikoku, in western Japan, could receive the equivalent of three months of the normal amount of rainfall in just two days as the storm passes, if it remains on its current trajectory.
The slow-moving storm was expected to reach Kyushu, the next main island in its path, sometime Thursday.
Typhoon Neoguri was packing sustained winds of 130 km/h and gusts up to 185 km/h Wednesday morning, far lower than the winds of up to 250 km/h reported at its peak, the Meteorological Agency said.
Though it was weakening, forecasters said the storm's wide area and slow movement could add to the potential damage. Japan is relatively well prepared for typhoons, but heavy downpours could cause landslides and flooding if the typhoon moves across the Japanese archipelago as expected on Thursday or Friday.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Unbelievable but terrifying images of Typhoon Neoguri from space

(Phil Plait, Slate) People on the main island of Japan are preparing to get hit by the strongest cyclone the Western Pacific has seen in the 2014 season: Typhoon Neoguri. It has already passed over Okinawa, and its 190 kilometer per hour (118 mh) gusts left widespread damage and at least one person dead.

The good news is that it’s drawing in dry air, which is weakening the system; cyclones like this need warm moisture for power. As I write this, its sustained winds are clocked at about 105 kph (66 mph), still very strong. The size of the typhoon is incredible; it's easily thousands of kilometers across. Evacuations have been advised for hundreds of thousands of people in Japan, and tens of thousands are without power.

Over the past day astronauts on board the International Space Station have passed over the typhoon, and they have taken astonishing pictures of the storm system. As always, pictures like these are amazingly beautiful, but never doubt for a second that what you are seeing is as destructive and dangerous as it is awe-inspiring and lovely.

From a Distance

As the ISS approaches the storm, Neoguri is seen from thousands of kilometers away on the limb of the Earth. As astronaut Alexander Gerst exclaimed,
“The Super Typhoon Neoguri did not even fit in our fisheye lens view. I have never seen anything like this.”
Feeder Bands

As the station passed over the outskirts of the typhoon, the spiral “feeder bands” were prominent. These are squalls of rain showers fed by warm ocean water, and can get very well-defined as the storm gets stronger. The long, thin streamers pointing away from the center are cirrus outflow clouds, well above the spiral bands and moving outward. Note the Russian spacecraft in the foreground, used to transport astronauts and supplies to and from the ISS.

Galactic Cyclone

Another, slightly different view of the feeder bands shows massive convective storms along them, where warm air rises to form giant cumulonimbus clouds (towering columns shaped like cauliflower). Although the physics is very different, the similarity to the arms of a spiral galaxy is striking.

Down the Eye

By an orbital coincidence, the space station passed directly over the eye of the typhoon, where the air pressure is lowest. Warm air near the ocean surface from outside the eye wall moves inward and upward, spreading out over the top of the typhoon. Inside the eye air is dropping down, where it dries out and becomes clear. It’s relatively calm inside the eye, with the fiercest winds in the eye wall.

The Eye of the Storm

A closer view of the eye shows details and shadows inside. Gerst estimates the size to be 65 kilometers (40 miles) in diameter.

Oblique Eye

As the ISS moved on, astronauts got an oblique view of the eye. This makes depth more obvious and the vertical structures in the inner feeder bands and eye wall easier to see.


NASA’s Aqua satellite took this jaw-dropping shot of the typhoon on July 8, 2014, at 05:00 UTC. To the left of the eye is the coast of China, and the island of Taiwan is to the eye's lower left. The sheer size of the typhoon is amazing.

Lacklustre Monsoon Rains Trigger Crop Worries: Food shortages and Inflation in India and Drive Up International Food Commodity Prices

For the first time, here is the admission by IMD that their forecast has gone for a full toss..

 Women carry metal pitchers filled with water in Gibpura, Gujarat state

(WallStreetJournal) Monsoon rains forecast for the first week of July across India have failed to materialize, triggering fresh concern about the likely impact on crop production and prices.
"Things are not progressing as we were expecting with the monsoon," 
D Sivanand Pai, head of the India Meteorological Department's long-term forecasting division, said Tuesday.
"We were expecting a stronger revival in the first week of July."
He said rainfall distribution had improved marginally from last month, but was being affected by Typhoon Neoguri in the western Pacific, which had sucked out moisture from the Indian subcontinent.

India is a large exporter of grains such as wheat and rice to countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Any fall in Indian crop production is likely to drive up international prices, according to analysts.

Monsoon rains arrived over the Indian mainland in the first week of June. But since then, rainfall has been 43% below the long-term average in the period through July 2, according to data on the India Meteorological Department's website. 

The slow progress of the monsoon has raised concerns about prospects for Indian crops this summer—the main cultivation period for a variety for crops including rice, sugar cane, corn and oilseeds such as soybeans. The country receives 70% of its total annual rainfall during the monsoon season, which runs from June to September.

One bright spot has been the formation of a low-pressure area over the Bay of Bengal this week, which should see rainfall pick up in the next two days, Mr. Pai said. Monsoon rains typically occur through a series of weather pulses, and indications were that one such formation was currently developing, he said.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dr Jeff Masters: Super Typhoon Neoguri Lashing Okinawa, Headed for Japan

(Wunderground) The outer spiral bands of Super Typhoon Neoguri are pounding the Japanese Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa, as the mighty storm heads north-northwest at 12 mph towards Japan. 

At 11:30 pm local time (13:30 UTC) Monday, Naha City in southern Okinawa was reporting heavy rain and wind gusts of 43 mph. At 8 pm local time Monday, Miyako-jima reported sustained winds of 33 mph, gusting to 53 mph. On Sunday, Neoguri strengthened to 155 mph winds, crossing the 150 mph threshold needed to be labeled a Super Typhoon.

As of 8 am EDT on Monday, the typhoon had weaker slightly to 150 mph winds, and infrared satellite images showed a reduction in the intensity and areal coverage of Neoguri's heavy thunderstorms.

Recent microwave satellite images showed that the weakening may be due to the onset of an eyewall replacement cycle, a common occurrence in intense tropical cyclones. In an eyewall replacement cycle, the inner eyewall shrinks to the point of instability, collapses, and is replaced by a larger-diameter outer eyewall that forms from a spiral band. This process can take several days, and typically reduces the peak winds by 10 - 20 mph.

With wind shear light, 5 - 10 knots, sea surface temperatures a very warm 30 - 31°C, and very warm waters extending to great depth along the storm's path, the typhoon will have the opportunity to re-strengthen once the eyewall replacement cycle is done.