What is El Niño and La Niña: Impact on Indian Farmers
10 December 2023
Weather: Loss or Gain?
El Niño Year: Impact on Indian Farmers
Weather events originating far away from India impact our farmers and agriculture
In the current El Niño year, people around the world and in India are talking a lot about this weather phenomenon.
Let's understand the names first: El Niño and La Niña. El Niño got its name from South American fishermen who called it "El Niño de Navidad" because they noticed warm water peaks in December during the 1600s.
In El Niño years, India often faces warmer temperatures and less rainfall, causing droughts in some regions
What happens during an El Niño year?
Now, during El Niño, the usual Pacific Ocean weather patterns change. Normally, trade winds blow from east to west, pushing warm water to the western Pacific. However, during El Niño, these winds weaken, and warm water moves back to the central and eastern Pacific.
La Niña brings cooler sea surface temperatures, leading to increased rainfall in certain parts of India
What happens during a La Niña year?
In a La Niña year, the Pacific Ocean's usual weather dance changes differently. Trade winds, normally pushing warm water to the western Pacific, become stronger during La Niña.
This results in even more warm water piling up in the western Pacific, leading to cooler sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific.
In El Niño years, India often faces warmer temperatures and less rainfall, causing droughts in some regions. This affects agriculture, water resources, and ecosystems. This year India had the driest August in over a century!
On the flip side, La Niña has different effects. It brings cooler sea surface temperatures, leading to increased rainfall in certain parts of India. While this can be good for agriculture and water availability, excessive rainfall may lead to flooding and related issues.
In 2023, the El Niño event had a big effect on Indian farmers. The irregular and late monsoon rains connected to El Niño led to widespread droughts, especially affecting rice, pulses, and stunted sugarcane crops in Maharashtra.
Megacities and El Niño
Mumbai is set to endure a warmer-than-usual winter this year due to El Niño
Farmers struggled to get enough water for irrigation, which lowered crop production. This had a significant impact on the Indian agricultural sector, causing a drop in overall output and a possible rise in food prices.