Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Jul 04, 2003
Industry & Economy
Climate & Weather
Renewed optimism over monsoon
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, July 3
THE progress of monsoon in north-western India and further into Pakistan this weekend and into early next week could well be interpreted as a good augury for the continued and sustained rain activity over the subcontinent, according to an expert.
This is especially so since, at least in regards to Pakistan, the arrival of monsoon rains is a little earlier than normally expected, says Mr Jeff Thompson of Global Weather Services, Kansas City, US.
"We don't see any signs that the monsoon activity will weaken or the rains will `shut-off' in July", Mr Thompson said when specifically asked as to how he assessed the possibility of the country continuing to receive the much-needed July precipitation to the required levels. The India Meteorological Department (IMD), it may be recalled, has come out with the finding that the country received surplus monsoon rains of 6 per cent during June this year.
But, the same was the situation obtaining around the same time last year, the monsoon having set in over before schedule, too. However, the rain activity came to a sudden and unexpected lull into the next month and plateaued, before petering out completely.
That represented a break to the successful run of monsoon that lasted 12 full seasons up till then, landing the country one of the worst drought years in the bargain. Meteorologists and economists are worried if the rains would fail them during the follow-up season this year.
"As for the current monsoon, yes, the IMD is bang on target with their observations, with most areas seeing good monsoon rains thus far into the season - in particular, the western, central and north-eastern parts of the country. As for the rains tapering off in July, I wouldn't be as concerned about it this season. True, the La Nina event which so many were quick to jump on, is fading and most of the computer forecast models continue to indicate near normal conditions throughout the next several months into November. As with any monsoon season, there will continue to be weekly fluctuations in the activity; however, most areas will see near to above normal rainfall at least through the middle of the month," Mr Thompson said.
Given the current sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies prevailing throughout the Indian Ocean, near normal SST's in the equatorial Pacific, and the favourable atmospheric conditions both aloft and at the surface across the Indian peninsula, it is to be expected that the monsoon rains will continue to provide either near to slightly above normal rainfall across India and Pakistan through the end of the month.
El Nino 2003?: Meanwhile, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has said that a regeneration of El Nino, associated with a savage drought through 2002 and into 2003, cannot be ruled out entirely, but is not likely this time round.
The chance of its opposite, La Nina, "has decreased following the recent sub-surface warming and continuing negative Southern Oscillation Index (SOI)," it said. The bureau warned that the SOI, a key indicator of El Nino, remained at -16 in the 30 days ended June 22, the same level as of June 15, and well down from -7 in May and -5 in April. The SOI remains influenced by abnormally low pressure over Tahiti due to the northeastward movement of a South Pacific convergence zone and anomalously high pressure over Darwin.
The SOI gives an indication of the stage of El Nino or La Nina events in the Pacific Ocean. Values below around -10 are consistent with an El Nino.
Generally, though, neutral conditions continue in the tropical Pacific Ocean, and most computer predictions indicate these will continue through to the Southern Hemisphere spring, it said. The bureau reported that negative, or cool, surface temperature anomalies strengthened slightly in the east while continued warming was observed in the central and western tropical Pacific waters.
Sub-surface temperatures remain below average in the eastern tropical Pacific, but warming was observed in the central Pacific in June as a result of a major westerly wind burst, it said. El Nino typically occurs in association with a sustained warming of a large part of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
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