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  Opinion   Edit  12 Apr 2023  AA Edit | Monsoon: Be ready for worst

AA Edit | Monsoon: Be ready for worst

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Apr 13, 2023, 12:15 am IST
Updated : Apr 13, 2023, 12:15 am IST

India’s monsoon is integral to its food production and food security, which is why the pre-monsoon forecasts loom with such importance

People wade through a water-logged street following monsoon rains. (PTI Photo/Kunal Patil)
 People wade through a water-logged street following monsoon rains. (PTI Photo/Kunal Patil)

Monsoon forecasting is not mere crystal ball gazing even if hindsight delivers might uphold the belief that any guess is as good as the other. This year’s conflicting forecasts from the IMD (96 per cent of normal), with its record of optimism, and Skymet (94 per cent), a private weather channel with a tendency not to be shackled by a bureaucratic need for sharing only good news, is a case for worry, especially since it is a year of the El Niňo phenomenon of unusual warming of surface waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The greatest unpredictability that spoils the forecasters’ measured and well meaning study of several parameters is that of extreme weather, instances of this new pattern markedly rising due to climate change caused by global warming. Unseasonal rainfall, extended drought and extreme weather events like excessive rainfall in short periods of time affecting various parts of grain-producing regions have made agriculture far more hazardous.

Given that both forecasts suggest the deficiency from normal in rainfall may affect the food grain production bowls of the country in the north more, contingency plans in terms of crisis management through alternative irrigation methods are called for to tackle what could be an abnormal monsoon or even extensive drought in certain parts following an already established pattern of rising heat ahead of the onset of the southwest monsoon. This was particularly seen in the summer of 2022 when wheat procurement may have fallen in Punjab.

It cannot be an IPL kind of matchup between IMD and Skymet to see who emerges the victor. Also, weather patterns affecting different parts of the country differently have shown that it is no more the amount of seasonal rainfall that dictates how good food grain production is as much as the change in climate patterns that has become inevitable.

India’s monsoon is integral to its food production and food security, which is why the pre-monsoon forecasts loom with such importance. Whatever be the improvements in meteorological forecasting, the weather man’s lot is not a happy one. Beyond hoping that the monsoon will be normal again this year, it would be better to be prepared in case it fails and that could be the real challenge as nature has been bountiful in the last few years.

Tags: monsoon, imd, skymet, monsoon forecasting, el niňo phenomenon