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A new monsoon calendar for India?

KOCHI: Are variations in temperatures triggering a complete new monsoon calendar for India? This is something that climatologists are looking at while monitoring the different aspects of changing weather patterns.

Indian meteorologists have been monitoring different aspects of ocean-atmosphere interaction and the role played by global warming on the Indian weather systems. Scientists

are pooling information through the Indian Network of Climate Change Assessment involving several institutions across the country. The Indian Meteorological Department has also come out with a study on the ‘Climate profile of India’ by S D Attri and Ajit Tyagi which is to be part of India’s National Communication-II to be submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Interestingly, a scientific paper published in the latest issue of the Indian Journal of Marine Science looks at the impact of global warming on the cyclonic storms over the north of Indian Ocean.

According to M R Ramesh Kumar and S Sankar, senior scientists at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, the frequency of storms is related to the changes in a couple of atmospheric parameters over the north Indian Ocean during the global warming period. Using a series of multiple data sets including the tracks of storms over the North Indian Ocean for the period 1951-2007, the scientists found that the frequency of storms and severe storms do not show a dramatic rise in-spite of a substantial increase in the sea-surface temperature in the Bay of Bengal from 1951-2007 compared to that in 1901-1951.

“This prompted us to conclude that the frequency of storms is related to the changes in a couple of atmospheric parameters over the north Indian Ocean during the global warming period. The relationship between the sea surface temperature over the Bay of Bengal and the maximum wind speed of the cyclonic systems is complex and there is no preferred range for the formation of cyclonic or severe cyclonic storms over the north Indian Ocean.

The present study assumes significance owing to the large contribution of rainfall over India from storms that form over the north of the Indian Ocean during the summer and the winter monsoons. Tropical cyclones are among the most destructive natural disasters in the world. About 7 percent of the global tropical cyclones form in the north Indian Ocean. Further, more number of cyclones form in the Bay of Bengal (about three to four times higher) than in the Arabian Sea. In the north Indian Ocean, there are two important seasons for their formation, namely, i) Pre-monsoon (March-May) and ii) Post-monsoon (October-December), the study says.

“An important concern about the consequences of the global warming scenario is its impact on the frequency, the intensity and the duration of tropical cyclones. Theoretical and modelling studies indicate that tropical cyclone winds would increase with increasing ocean temperature,” he said. Though direct observational evidence of this relationship over the tropical Oceans is lacking, it has been brought out in the recent study over the Atlantic Ocean that higher sea surface temperatures (SSTs) over this region increase the intensity of Atlantic tropical cyclones.

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