Saturday, July 11, 2009
India's monsoon rains were 8 percent below normal in early July, reviving after the driest June in 83 years, but water in the main reservoirs has more than halved, putting at risk even winter-sown oilseeds and wheat.
Rainfall was 29 percent below normal in the last week of June but improved in the following week, helping corn, soybean, sugarcane and rice crops in India, where 60 percent of farms depend on the monsoons.
Soybean sowing would be completed in a week in the main producing central state of Madhya Pradesh, but last month's dry patch hit rice and oilseeds planting in some parts of south India, trade officials said.
"Follow-up rains, after the sowing gets over next week, will be crucial," said Rajesh Agrawal, spokesman of the Soybean Processors Assocation of India.
The monsoon's revival in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India's top sugarcane producer, is expected to raise sugar content in the crop, but it needs regular rainfall in future.
Water levels in India's 81 main reservoirs more than halved to 16.003 billion cubic metres (bcm) from 37.301 bcm a year ago, according to government data for the week ending July 8.
The water level was 51.5 percent lower than the average in the past decade and a senior government scientist said that if rains in the months ahead are not enough to fill up reservoirs, irrigated winter crops such as wheat and rapeseed will be hit.
"If the reservoir level does not improve by end-August, then winter-sown crops would be affected, but it is too early to say anything," said A.K. Singh, deputy director general at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
On a global scale it was the coldest June in 5 years as well, especially across North America, Eastern Europe, Southern Russia and Australia. This would suppress demand for hot weather items in the northern hemisphere regions, but a plus for Winter seasonal items in Australia. The heat was most excessive in India where drought was extreme with the driest June in India in over 20 years.
The cooler global trends were the result of 4 large scale features:
1. Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) Cycle, 32-year cold phase of the Pacific Ocean started 2 years ago and continues for the next 30 years. It will be interrupted by a developing El Nino (warmer ocean in the tropical Pacific) this year and early next year which could lead to a warmer 2010 here in the U.S.
2. Atlantic Ocean Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) Cycle, the 20-year cold phase of the Atlantic Ocean started this year - several years earlier than normal. Colder Atlantic Ocean = colder planet.
3. Very long solar minimum cycle that is now the longest 100 to 300 years. Weak sun = less solar radiation (heat) here on Earth = cooler planet.
4. Eruption of Russian volcano Sayrchev Peak on June 12th. Large volcanic eruptions spew massive amounts of SO2 (sulfur dioxide) into the upper atmosphere which actually reflects incoming solar radiation. Since this volcano was in the Northern Hemisphere it can have an even greater impact on our temperatures (cooler).
The official global temperature anomaly from the University of Alabama showed a dramatic warming trend from the 1970s to 1998 which corresponded to the warm phases of the PDO and AMO ocean cycles. Since both have flipped cold in the past two years a more dramatic cooling trend has developed that is getting little media attention. While the globe was cooler, some areas such as India and the UK had scorching heat-waves.
As the entire country is grappling with a prolonged dry spell due to the delay in the monsoon, an official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that not all El Nino weather conditions cause monsoon failure.
An El Nino, which means "little boy" in Spanish, is driven by an abnormal warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean, and creates havoc in weather patterns across the Asia-Pacific region.
A B Mazumdar, Deputy Director General, IMD, said that there is no direct link between the El Nino and delayed monsoon.
"Our studies show that while in many El Nino years, monsoon activity was subdued, at the same time monsoon didn't fail completely in our country in other El Nino years. So that's the reason why we cannot draw a direct relationship between the El Nino and monsoon like in some countries like Australia," said Mazumdar.
India's monsoon will remain weak according to the latest Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) index, which gauges the eastward progress of tropical rain.
The monsoon is crucial for summer-sown (Kharif) crops and most of marginal farmers rely solely on the rains.
India is grappling with a prolonged dry spell, due to the delayed monsoon rains. But meterologists are saying that the lack of monsoon rains can't be blamed on El Nino.
The El Nino phenomenon is driven by an abnormal warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean, and creates havoc in weather patterns across the Asia-Pacific region.
Meteorologists say that there is no direct link between the El Nino and delayed monsoons.
[A B Mazumdar, India Meteorological Department]:
"Our studies show that while in many El Nino years, monsoon activity was subdued, at the same time the monsoon didn't fail completely in our country. So that's the reason why we cannot draw a direct relationship between El Nino and monsoons like in some countries such as Australia."
India, one of the world's biggest producers and consumer of everything from sugar to soybeans, is already experiencing a weaker annual monsoon. Its faltering sugar crop has driven world prices of the commodity to their highest in three years.
India's monsoon will remain weak according to the latest MJO index, which gauges the eastward progress of tropical rain.
The monsoon is crucial for summer-sown crops and most of India's marginal farmers rely solely on the rains.
Two-thirds of the country's population depends on rain-fed agriculture because they don't have modern irrigation facilities.