Friday, April 18, 2014

World News: El Nino looms larger in latest forecasts (10 April 2014)

El Nino looms larger in latest forecasts
NEW DELHI: In what could be bad news for Indian agriculture, conditions in the Pacific Ocean seem to be increasingly favouring the onset of an El Nino this summer. In its latest update on Tuesday, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said there was now a more than 70% chance that the unusual weather pattern will develop in the next few months. 

The Australian agency has been updating its El Nino forecast every fortnight. Tuesday's update, however, was the most categorical about the onset of an El Nino till date. An El Nino increases the chances of poor monsoon in India although there have been several exceptions in the past. 

El Nino is the name given to unusual warming of waters in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, which is linked to changes in wind patterns and anomalous weather in many parts of the globe. 

"It is now likely (estimated at a greater than 70% chance) that an El Nino event will develop... Surface and sub-surface ocean temperatures have warmed considerably in recent weeks, consistent with a state of rapid transition," the Australian met bureau said. 

The agency said most international climate models it surveyed predict that sea surface temperatures will reach El Nino thresholds during the coming summer. 

Another update released on Monday by US's meteorological agency, NOAA, maintained a 50% probability of El Nino setting in this summer. These predictions are likely to impact the India Meteorological Department's monsoon forecast, slated to be released next month. 

On the brighter side, it must be pointed out that not all El Nino years coincide with weak monsoons in India. For instance, the strongest El Nino event in recent years occurred in 1997 but it did not depress rains in India.

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