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El Nino and La Nina and its Impact on Indian Monsoon in 2023-24


  • El Niño is weakening but will continue to influence global climate for months.
  • The IMD predicts above-normal temperatures across India for March-May 2024.
  • Potential for normal monsoon rainfall in 2024 if ENSO neutral conditions develop.

El Niño and Its Impact on India in 2023-2024

El Nino and La Nina, the alternating phases of sea-surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean, play a significant role in shaping global weather patterns. The ongoing El Nino event, which has persisted since 2023, is expected to weaken and transition to ENSO-neutral conditions by April-June 2024, according to the latest outlook from the Climate Prediction Centre of NOAA. This transition minimizes the likelihood of a significant impact on the early stages of the Indian monsoon season.

El Nino and La Nina and its Impact on Indian Monsoon in 2023-24_4.1

  • Above-Normal Temperatures Forecast:
    • India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts above-normal temperatures until May.
    • Both maximum and minimum temperatures expected to be higher than usual across most regions.
  • Impact on Health and Well-being:
    • Heightened risk of heat-related illnesses, especially among vulnerable populations.
    • Urgent need for heat preparedness plans to mitigate health risks.
  • Agricultural Implications:
    • Heat stress poses challenges for crop yields, livestock health, and water availability.
    • Adaptive strategies like crop diversification and irrigation optimization are crucial for agricultural resilience.
  • Infrastructure Resilience and Adaptation:
    • Infrastructure systems vulnerable to extreme heat events, leading to disruptions in services.
    • Investment in climate-resilient infrastructure and heat mitigation strategies essential to enhance resilience.

Predicted Heat Conditions for India in 2024

Summer Heat Forecast: The IMD predicts above-normal temperatures across India for March-May 2024.

Regions Affected

  • Areas like Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and several others will experience higher maximum temperatures.
  • Nights will be warmer across most of the country, except in some regions of Eastern India.

Heatwave Predictions:

  • Central and Northern Peninsular India may face longer and harsher heatwaves, possibly extending to 12-15 days in places like Maharashtra, Telangana, and North Karnataka.
  • States like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and several others are expected to experience heatwaves in the coming months.

El Niño’s Impact on Indian Monsoon

  • El Niño Phenomenon: El Niño, characterised by the warming of the equatorial Pacific, affects global weather patterns and can lead to temperature increases and droughts.
  • Influence on Southwest Monsoon: Although there’s no direct correlation, El Niño Phenomenon often coincides with weaker monsoons in India, leading to below-average rainfall.
  • Current Status of El Niño: The 2023-24 El Niño has peaked and is weakening, impacting global climate, with sea surface temperatures recently reaching 2°C above normal.
  • ENSO Neutral Conditions: Global climate models indicate a shift to ENSO neutral conditions by April-June, potentially aligning favourably with the onset of India’s southwest monsoon.

Southwest Monsoon Outlook for 2024

  • Monsoon’s Economic Importance: The southwest monsoon is vital for India, delivering 70% of annual rainfall and sustaining agriculture and water reservoirs.
  • Forecast Development: MMCFS model forecasts ENSO neutral conditions by May, which may favour the timely onset of the monsoon.
  • Monsoon Progression: Expected to reach the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by mid-May and mainland India around June 1, the monsoon covers the country by mid-July.
  • Upcoming Long Range Forecast: The LRF by the IMD, expected in mid-April, will provide more insights, and current predictions suggest the monsoon may not be heavily impacted by El Niño.
  • Normal Rainfall Potential: If other climatic factors like wind patterns and low-pressure systems are favourable, India could see normal monsoon rainfall this year.

Super El Nino in 2024

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there is a 75%-80% chance of a strong El Niño event in the Northern Hemisphere from March to May 2024, with a 1 in 3 chance of it being a “super El Niño”.

A super El Niño is a particularly strong El Niño event that occurs when sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean are at least 2.5 degrees Celsius above average. Super El Niños can have a significant impact on weather patterns around the world, including:

  • Warmer and drier conditions in the southwestern United States and southern California.
  • Increased rainfall and flooding in the western United States, Alaska, and Hawaii.
  • Drier conditions in Australia, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia.
  • Increased rainfall and flooding in South America.
  • Drier conditions in Africa and India.

Super El Nino Implications For Indian Monsoon

In India, a strong El Niño is typically associated with reduced rainfall during the monsoon season. This could lead to drought conditions in some parts of the country, and could also impact agricultural production. Here are some of the implications of a super El Niño in 2024 for the Indian monsoon:

  • Reduced rainfall: A super El Niño is typically associated with reduced rainfall during the monsoon season in India. This could lead to drought conditions in some parts of the country, particularly in the north and east.
  • Impact on agriculture: Reduced rainfall could have a significant impact on agricultural production, leading to higher food prices and food insecurity.
  • Water shortages: Reduced rainfall could also lead to water shortages, particularly in areas that rely on monsoon rains for irrigation.
  • Increased risk of heatwaves: Super El Niños can also lead to increased risk of heatwaves in India. Heatwaves can be dangerous for human health, and can also impact crop yields.
  • Impact on human health: Heatwaves and drought conditions can have a significant impact on human health, leading to increased cases of heat-related illnesses, malnutrition, and waterborne diseases.

You can check below the complete Phenomenon of El Nino and La Nina in detail.

El Nino and La Nina

El Nino and La Nina are two opposing climate phenomena that mess with upwelling patterns and have an impact on the economy, ecosystems, and weather on a worldwide scale. Although inconsistent, El Nino and La Nina events typically happen every two to seven years. El Nino generally happens more frequently than La Nina. Changes in water temperature in the eastern central equatorial Pacific can lead to the complicated weather phenomena El Nino and La Nina.

El Nino and La Nina Meaning

El Nino

El Nino impact refers to sporadic climate changes and the emergence of warm ocean surface waters along the coasts of Peru and Ecuador. The El Nino effect was originally noticed by South American fishermen in the 17th century.

When there is an El Nino, the trade winds that normally sweep from east to west along the Equator diminish, resulting in high air pressure in the western Pacific Ocean and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific Ocean. As a result, the surface water is moving towards the northern South American shore. An El Nino impact results from a six-month period of ocean warming in the central and eastern Pacific. Warming the central and eastern Pacific Ocean during an El Nino diminishes the regular upwelling of cold water, thus lowering the region’s nutrient level.

El Niño vs. La Niña: What's the Difference? - Earth How

The East Pacific Ocean’s warmer waters cause the winds in some areas to change direction.

  • Usually lasting a few weeks to a few months, the El Nino impact happens around Christmas. Depending on how warm the water is at the moment, it could occasionally last for significantly longer lengths of time.
  • When a climate like this warms for seven to nine months, it is referred to as El Nino “conditions,” and when it lasts longer, it is referred to as an El Nino “episode.”
  • The El Nino effect typically happens more often than the La Nina effect. The relationship between the ocean-atmosphere climate interaction and the rise in sea surface temperature in the Central and East-Central Equatorial Pacific can be inferred from fluctuations in ocean temperature.
  • These complex meteorological conditions develop in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. El Nino happens regularly, but the “cold phase” of ENSO is infrequent. The Indian monsoon has had a disastrous effect on the nation’s agricultural activity as a result of the El Nino influence.
  • The El Nino effect is unpredictable; it never follows a set rhythm. El Nino occurs erratically every 2–7 years as well. El Nino is sometimes thought of just a coastal surface water warning, but it is also known to cause significant climate change.

La Nina

It is also known as El Viejo, Anti El Nina, or a “cold occurrence,” and in Spanish, it means little girl. El Nino is at odds with La Nina. The trade winds are more powerful when La Nina is present, which causes Asia to get warmer water. Increased upwelling off the west coast of the United States causes cold water rich in nutrients to rise to the surface. Due to the jet stream being driven north by these chilly Pacific Ocean waters, the southern United States experiences droughts, and the Pacific Northwest and Canada experience severe rainfall and flooding.

The South experiences warmer winters than the North, which experiences colder ones. Hurricanes can also be caused by La Nina. The Pacific Ocean’s offshore waters are colder than usual. More marine life is supported by them, and areas like the California coast are attracted to more coldwater animals like squid and salmon because they contain more nutrients.

El Nino and La Nina Effect

Ten of India’s 13 droughts since 1950 have occurred in El Nino years, and one has occurred in a La Nina year. This is due to the fact that an El Nino typically results in India receiving less rain than average. Because Indian agriculture depends so heavily on the monsoons, lower rainfall during the monsoons typically results in below-average crop production.

Effect of El Nino

  • Convection over warmer surface water increases the likelihood of precipitation. South American rainfall has increased, causing erosion and coastal flooding.
  • Regions hit by tragedies caused by nature, such as flooding and drought, are more vulnerable to the spread of diseases.
  • Many areas contend that increased disease transmission is a result of El Nino flooding. Respiratory issues are brought on by cholera, dengue fever, malaria, and other illnesses.
  • Dryness is a result of El Nino in Australia and Indonesia. Water shortages result from reservoirs drying up and rivers not carrying enough water, endangering agricultural activity since we need water to irrigate land.
  • The El Nino influence has reduced the frequency of hurricanes in the Atlantic.

Effect of La Nina

  • It causes severe monsoons in Southeast Asia and India.
  • It causes a condition in Peru and Ecuador that resembles a drought.
  • It brings about chilly, wet winters in Southeast Africa and wet weather in Eastern Australia.
  • It causes winter draughts in the Southern United States.
  • It makes the winters in the northwest United States and western Canada extremely chilly.
  • In Australia, it leads to significant flooding.
  • The Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the area off the coast of Somalia see high temperatures as a result.
  • It leads India to experience intense monsoon rains.

El Nino Vs La Nina

El Nino La Nina
The trade winds, which blow from east to west, diminish during an el nino. The trade winds that blow from east to west intensify during La Nina.
Warm seas build up over the eastern Pacific Ocean during El Nino. Warm water builds up across the western Pacific Ocean during La Nina.
Over the western Pacific, the El Nino is packed with high air surface pressure. Low air surface pressure is present during La Nina across the eastern Pacific Ocean.
El Nino has low wind speeds. The wind speed is particularly high during La Nina.
Coriolis force strength declines during El Nino. However, during La Nina, the Coriolis force becomes stronger.
In the eastern Pacific Ocean and surrounding nations like Chile, Peru, and Ecuador, El Nino causes excessive rainfall. La Nina causes drought-like conditions over the eastern Pacific Ocean, affecting neighboring nations like Chile, Peru, and Ecuador.

El Nino and La Nina Facts for UPSC

  • The trade winds that blow from east to west intensify during La Nina.
  • The 1997–98 El Nino was the first to be systematically tracked from beginning to end.
  • The 1997–1998 events had an impact on many areas; Peru and California had significant rain and flooding, whereas the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia experienced drought conditions.
  • La Nina is primarily brought on by an increase in easterly trade winds.
  • The El Nino – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle has two opposing phases, El Nino and La Nina.

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El Nino and La Nina Effect FAQs

What is the difference between El Niño and La Niña?

The term "El Nino" describes the irregularly occurring, above-average sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific. The ENSO cycle's warm phase is represented by it. In the eastern and central equatorial Pacific, there is a periodic decrease of sea surface temperatures known as La Nina.

What is the El Nino and La Nina effect?

El Nino impacts weather systems around the globe, triggering predictable disruptions in temperature, rainfall and winds. La Nina is the opposite – a cooling phase of ENSO that tends to have global climate impacts opposite to those of El Nino.

What are El Nino and La Nina years?

El Nino and La Nina can both have global impacts on weather, wildfires, ecosystems, and economies. Episodes of El Nino and La Nina typically last nine to 12 months, but can sometimes last for years. El Nino and La Nina events occur every two to seven years, on average, but they don't occur on a regular schedule

Is El Niño wet or dry?

• Reduced rainfall.
• Warmer temperatures.
• Shift in temperature extremes.

Is La Niña warm or cold?

La Nina refers to the periodic cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific. Typically, La Nina events occur every 3 to 5 years or so, but on occasion can occur over successive years. La Nina represents the cool phase of the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle.

How does El Nino affect monsoons?

El Nino disrupts normal ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, which in turn affects global weather patterns, including monsoons in India.

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