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Menopausal Mother Nature

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North East India records lowest rainfall in 122 years

The IMD predicts that below-normal rainfall will persist over the remaining part of August

North East India has registered a 44 per cent deficit in rainfall for the month of July, even as the rest of the country has received ample rains, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The North East recorded 234.6 millimetres (mm) of rain during the month of July. This is reportedly the lowest since 1901, according to the IMD. The average expected rainfall for the North East is 424.1 mm.

India recorded 327.7 millimetres (mm) of rainfall, about 17 per cent more than its long period average (LPA), till July 2022.

LPA of rainfall is recorded over a particular region for a given interval (like month or season) averaged over a long period like 30 years, 50 years, etc, according to the IMD. The average normal rainfall for the country is 280.5 mm.

The average minimum temperature for India also peaked at 25.4 degrees Celsius since 1901, breaking the previous record of 25.25 degrees Celsius in 1942.

The IMD report stated that the average maximum temperature in east and North East India was the highest in 122 years, with 33.75 degrees Celsius breaking the earlier record of 32.66 degrees Celsius recorded in 2009 for the month of July.

The poor rainfall in east and North East has affected the sowing season directly. Sowing till last week was recorded to be 26 per cent lower compared to 2021, according to the National Food Security Mission dashboard.

Paddy-growing states such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Chhattisgarh were majorly affected and reported less sowing.

“The shift in rainfall trends is being observed for the past five decades at least. The rainfall in North East India shows a decreased trend,” Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director-general of the IMD, told Down To Earth.

Mohapatra added: “Besides, rainfall amount has reduced in the regions across India that are known to receive more rainfall, while the rainfall in the scarce areas is increasing.” The IMD chief said scientists were closely monitoring the changes to understand climate change impacts on the country.

Subimal Ghosh, head of climate studies at Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, said: “We know that climate change is impacting monsoon patterns. But more studies are required to predict future scenarios.”

Ghosh said existing models and data were insufficient to help understand how future droughts and extreme rains in India will look like.

“We have about 150 years of data, which is significant. But more information is needed. Also, the existing models cannot predict accurately as the presence of aerosols, changing winds and temperature in the Indian Ocean and other weather variabilities limit the studies and our understanding,” he said.

Ghosh also spoke about increasing temperatures. “It is an established fact that high temperatures result in extreme rainfall. This is being observed at present. The temperatures are expected to continue to increase in the coming years, which will definitely translate into more extreme rainfall events.

Northwest India received 232.3 mm rainfall till July, against the average of 209.7 mm. Central India received 42.8 per cent more rainfall at 458.7 mm, against its average of 321.3 mm. The southern peninsula however, has received the highest rainfall of 328.1 mm against the average of 204.5 mm, amounting to 60.4 per cent additional rains.

The IMD has predicted that below-normal rains would continue until the end of August. South India is expected to receive normal and above normal rainfall according to the forecast.

Below-normal rainfall will continue over many parts of the west coast, some regions of east, east- central and North East India.

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