El Niño conditions, which contributed to a warm 2023, are anticipated to dissipate by June 2024, raising expectations for abundant monsoon rains, as reported by meteorologists, reported Business Today.
Two prominent global climate agencies disclosed last week that El Niño is weakening, and there is a possibility of La Niña conditions emerging by August. Indian weather scientists express optimism that if La Niña conditions set in by June-August, monsoon rains could surpass those of the previous year.
However, caution has been advised regarding the ‘spring predictability barrier,’ a phenomenon complicating weather forecasting. Madhavan Rajeevan, former secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, highlighted a high likelihood of La Niña developing by June-July.
Even if El Niño transitions into ENSO-neutral conditions, expectations are for the monsoon to outperform last year. The southwest monsoon, constituting roughly 70% of India’s annual rainfall, is critical for the agriculture sector, contributing about 14% to the GDP and employing over half of India’s 1.4 billion population.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) confirmed the weakening of El Niño. NOAA also pointed out the historical tendency for La Niña to follow robust El Niño events. This year’s monsoon is predicted to be superior to the previous year, even if El Niño transitions into ENSO-neutral conditions.
Dr. Sivananda Pai, a senior scientist at the India Meteorological Department (IMD), remarked, “Currently, we cannot say anything with certainty. Some models indicate La Niña, while some predict ENSO-neutral conditions. However, all models suggest an end to El Niño.”
India experienced below-average rainfall of 820 mm in the 2023 monsoon season, compared to the long-period average of 868.6 mm, owing to a strengthening El Niño. If El Niño persists through the first half of 2024, 2024 is projected to be warmer than 2023, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
However, if La Niña develops, 2024 is not expected to be warmer than 2023. Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, suggested that a swift transition to La Niña by June could result in a timely and abundant monsoon.
Nevertheless, high temperatures may lead to intense cyclones and extreme rains. Koll noted, “At the same time if high temperatures continue, it would mean intense cyclones and extreme rains.”
Despite the transition, global temperature anomalies might persist. A La Niña might not exhibit the same intensity as an El Niño, potentially subduing the cooling-compensation effect. Recent years have witnessed warmer La Niña periods compared to past El Niño years.