Friday, June 27, 2014

Why is the IMD feeding the media outright spin regarding rainfall deficiency?

Speculation of the monsoon performance has become the central focus of our economy so much our Prime Minister is reported to monitor reports almost real time. So why is it so central? According to industry body Assocham, a 1 per cent deficit in rains could hurt India's economic growth by 0.35 per cent. Assuming a 20% deficiency, our GDP will no doubt be deeply in the red, given that last year GDP was within the sub 5 range. 
In this context, NDTV interviewed Mr DS Pai, Director, Long Term Forecasting of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). Here are extracts from the interview:
"Mr Pai of Indian Meteorological Department says he is optimistic that monsoon will improve in July and will cover the rainfall deficiency in June. "From first week of July monsoon will pick up. June deficiency may not lead to season deficiency," he added.

Comparing this year's June rainfall with the 2009 situation when El Nino turned India's monsoon rain patchy, Mr Pai said, "By end-June 2009, we had a deficiency of around 47 per cent but by July it became only 3 per cent."
But look at the hard data for 2009. The season's rainfall deficiency for 2009 ended up at 22%. While DS Pai cannot be accused for untruth, he can be questioned whether he deliberately suppressed information to misled a nation. It is also amazing that the IMD likes to convince the nation that the monsoon will pickup right from first week of July. Unfortunately he does not tell us what the monsoon drivers are behind his optimism. As far as model outlooks go, the situation looks extremely grim even as we enter first week July! Even otherwise, farmers need rain not only for sowing and their investment is at risk if rainfall fails during the growing cycle of crops.

El Nino Modoki crosses threshold and its emergence now irreversible

Daily values for Nino Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) and SOI have crossed Nino threshold though their 30 day mean values may still show a lag. Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) which till very recently reflected La Nina values have now flipped into El Nino mode. According to the Australian Met yesterday SOI was a whopping (-) 20.6. It is now clear that we are not having a cannonical El Nino, but a Modoki (pseudo El Nino), Type II variety wich would be very devastating for the Indian monsoon. To accentuate the problem, both the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and Equatorial Indian Ocean Oscillation (EQUINOO) have turned adverse for rainfall, compounding the adverse effect of the Modoki.

Within this context, the IMD's assertion that the monsoon will revive July-September looks increasingly extremely suspect and could be under the influence of Modi Sarkar's coercisive pressure to play down the severity of the calamity (drought) that India faces.

(UnderCurrentNews) El Nino is not expected to become extraordinary off the coast of Peru (El Nino 1+2 region) by year-end, says the latest report of the Peruvian institution researching El Nino ENFEN.

By end of 2014, ENFEN forecasts weak to moderate warm conditions in the 1+2 region, while conditions are expected to be from warm to strong for the 3.4 region.

Within the next two months, ENFEN projects weak to moderate warm conditions in El Nino 2 region, and moderate in the 3.4 region.

These predictions will be more reliable as Peru moves away from its autumn season, says ENFEN’s report, dated June 21.

ENFEN’s predictions are based on data gathered during the first two weeks of June, without including the latest developments of last week, when a sudden jump in water temperatures prompted expectations of an upward warming trend that would confirm the development of El Nino.

The report of the Peruvian institution said the oceanic Kelvin wave, formed at the end of April in the central equatorial Pacific and now reaching the western edge of the coast of South America, will maintain the sea surface temperatures above its normal values until the end of July.

In the Peruvian coast, during the first half of June, sea surface temperatures had anomalies between 0.9° and 3.1°C, the report reads.

It also highlights changes in the anchovy stocks, already noticed since May.
“Anchovy moved to areas with greater depth due to the presence of warm waters,” reads the report.
As anchovy has moved to the south, near the shore where industrial fishing vessels are not allowed to operate, only 46% of anchovy quota has been caught by June 21, according to the Peruvian ministry of production (Produce).

Despite poor catches, Peruvian anchovy catcher Pesquera Exalmar is confident 80% of the 2014 anchovy quota will be caught this year, following the forecasts of ENFEN.

Latest developments

On June 20, sea surface temperature anomalies in the Nino 3.4 region showed the highest value of the year at +0.9ºC, according to data from NOAA seen by Undercurrent News.

This drastic increase of water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean encouraged projections of an upward warming trend confirming the development of El Nino, according to the oceanic scientist Luis Icochea.
“This is a big jump in temperature, from now on waters will hardly be cooled, the event is irreversible,” Icochea told Undercurrent last week.
Icochea said abnormal high temperatures in the air and the water, as well as fish species movements, are strong evidence of an, at least, strong El Nino.
“El Nino is going to be strong, but we will need to wait a bit more to forecast exactly how strong it will be,” Icochea said.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The writing is on the wall. India faces drought, degree of severity remaining the only question

Only 18% of the country the IMD tells us received normal rainfall. But they also inform us that rainfall deficiency till yesterday stood at 38%. A researcher’s eye will at once prop up as it appears somewhere these numbers do not add up....
Leave as it is, we can expect June to end up with a deficiency of around 45% with an adverse Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) till end of the month.

Yet, June accounts for only 18% of the rainfall during the South West Monsoon (SWM) while July-August together accounts for a whopping 62%. The IMD’s revised forecast earlier this month predicted a 7% rainfall deficiency for the season and accordingly they are betting that July-August could see favourable rainfall that avoids a drought situation in the country.

Even so, for the IMD to realize their revised forecast, we need just more than normal or below average rainfall during July-August. Wein fact  need excess rains during these two months. And if September witness a late withdrawal of the monsoon combined with near normal rainfall, the IMD hopes to save their face.
So is a revival possible as IMD is hoping for? From the last decadal data, it looks highly unlikely the IMD’s prayers will be answered. The probability is that we should end up in a range between minus 15-20% deficiency or in fact more. This blog in our early May monsoon forecast predicted minus 16% Read here. This year looks unusually bleak since 4 major climatic factors have converged to have a negative influence on rainfall:
- El Nino

- Indian Ocean Dipole

- ‘Equatorial Indian Ocean Oscillation (EQUINOO)

- Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO)
The IMD needs a miracle to save their face. But the good thing of weather and climate is that miracles happen frequently. Remember 2012 when everyone had written off the monsoon has failed, the IOD turned strongly positive; the El Nino dissipating suddenly (first time in recorded history)  resulting inAug-September recorded a splendid turnaround. We need something of a miracle of 2012 this year if India is to avoid one of the worst droughts in our history!

Drought alert issued for Sindh, Balochistan!

Amazing that Modi Sarkar still wants to convince us that rainfall deficiency would be just around 7% LPA while neighbouring Pakistan’s Met Office warns of extreme drought, a forecast aligned with those of South Asian Climate Outlook Forum, a wing of World Meteorology Organization (WMO). The underplaying of drought enables Modi Sarkar to disencourage imports and aggressively promote exports of food commodities such as sugar. 

(PakistanToday) The Meteorological Department has warned of extreme drought conditions in the South, particularly Sindh and Balochistan.

The country as a whole could be faced with the prospect of 30 to 60 percent less monsoon rains, according to Pakistan Meteorological Department Director Azmat Hayat Khan.

It has experienced 11 such episodes in the past. A deficient monsoon could significantly impact agriculture and life pattern, particularly in Sindh.

If the rain were to be below normal in the South, which is a major sowing area for vegetables as well as cotton, rice, and sugarcane, the productivity in both rain-fed and irrigated areas could be set back dramatically, according to Khan.

High temperatures and dry conditions in May and June meant that evaporation of water from the irrigation network and farmlands would be very high.

The monsoon rain plays a crucial role in reducing the evaporation and meeting the water requirement of crops in the rain-fed areas in the North also.

Predicted rainfall for the North is no better either with just normal rains, according to the Met Office.

Drought conditions have occurred in the region when the temperatures in the Pacific Ocean increased as part of an El Nino phenomenon.

According to the Met Office, some of the worst drought events occurred in 1969, when rains dried up more than 90 percent, and in 1987 and in 1991 by over 75 percent.

In 2002, there was a deficiency of 90 percent that set off some of the severe droughts in the country.

Earlier this year, the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum had forecast a weak June to September monsoon for large swathes of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh this year.

The forum had also warned that the deficient summer monsoon could affect agriculture-based economies in South Asia.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Monsoon failure: Accuweather predicts widespread drought

(Eric Leister, AccuWeather) While the monsoon has made some progress into northeastern India, elsewhere advancement has come to a halt this week.

Even places, such as Mumbai which officially saw the onset of the monsoon last week, have since dried out. Following several inches of rain last week, five straight days of dry weather have taken place.

The entire northward advancement of the monsoon along the west coast of India has come to a halt and is now approaching two weeks behind schedule across Gujarat.

The monsoon will hold strong over the northeast during the next week, but any advancement westward will be slow, meaning areas that have already received rain will continue, but elsewhere the monsoon will fall further behind schedule.

The same can be said for the west coast where the southern half of the west coast of India will get the steadiest rainfall over the next week with some rain pushing northward back to Mumbai late this week or early next week.

Through June 23, areas from Mumbai to Goa are averaging about 15 inches below normal for the month. In fact, outside of south-central and northeastern India, all areas have received below-normal rainfall for the month thus far.

The combination of a slow arrival and an expected weak and sporadic monsoon will increase the likelihood of drought across a large portion of India during the second half of this year and into next week. The greatest threat for this drought continues to be across the north and northwest as well as neighboring Pakistan.