This year, Goans will know the the month of June as one of the hottest months, with dry spells as Goa experienced a delayed monsoon. Even though the last week of June brought the much-needed relief and rains to Goa, records show that Goa received around 27 per cent less rainfall this June. At the start of the month, it was around 70 per cent.
That’s not all. Goa received 74 per cent deficit pre-monsoon showers compared to Gujarat which received an excess of 863 per cent and Maharashtra 100 per cent.
Many may think that this is just technical data, but all these numbers indicate a sad and dangerous situation in the times to come. It also indicates that we are now in the middle of issues like climate change and global warming.
Also, this year, the El Nino effect (abnormal warming of surface waters in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean) has drastically impacted the Indian monsoon and that of Goa, too.
EL NIÑO, LA NINA
Meteorologist and retired NIO scientist Dr MR Ramesh Kumar states that there are a number of reasons why we received less rainfall this June.
“There are several factors for the decreased rainfall in the month of June, such as the delayed onset of the monsoons over Goa. The monsoon arrived in Goa only on June 11, 2023. Also El Nino, a phenomenon which occurs in the eastern Equatorial Pacific Ocean, has a profound influence on the monsoon activities over India. After a triple La Nina (abnormal cooling of surface waters in Equatorial Pacific Ocean) in the years 2020, 2021 and 2022, we had El Nino in 2023,” states Dr Kumar.
As we know that the monsoon is a lifeline — as it recharges our groundwater, aquifers, helps in the propagation of flora and fauna, and in short, makes the place alive again. And when we don’t receive rainfall, it will have a direct impact on our lives in the times to come.
Dr Kumar says, “The monsoon rainfall during the months from June to September contributes about 90 per cent of the mean annual rainfall. So, a significant decrease in the month of June can have a profound influence on agriculture, biodiversity, ecology, drinking water, etc.”
Interestingly, it wasn’t only in June that Goa faced this unusual, or extreme, weather. The impact of this was seen in the month of February itself. The forest fires which we experienced in March could be related to it, too.
“The extreme temperature rise over the state of Goa started in a winter month of February. Usually, the temperatures rise during the pre-monsoon season (March to May) and peak in May. But, this year, the temperature rise started quite early and the dry areas caused most of the plants and forest regions to dry up fast, which made it conducive for the forest fires,” suggests Dr Kumar.
He also cautioned that coming days of July and August will impact the monsoon since that is the time when El Nino will peak, and it is also the peak monsoon time in Goa. “El Nino will affect the atmospheric circulation, called Walker Circulation, and impact the monsoon rainfall in the months of July-August when it will also peak.”
During this monsoon season, Goa also experiences erratic rains as it rains very heavily during on one day, and that is followed by several days of dry spells.
All these conditions what we are experiencing now is nothing, but climate change and global warming. “The extreme rainfall events which Goa experienced in one day was pretty bad, what we needed was a spatial and temporal distribution of the rainfall. In a global warming or climate change scenario, we have more and more intense rainfall events (rainfall more than 10 cm) in a day, and prolonged dry days or weak monsoon conditions, which are not good for agriculture, drinking water, biodiversity, etc. So, we are already in the midst of a Climate Change and Global warming scenario,” states Dr Kumar.
He also points out that the number of cyclones in the Arabian Sea are increasing. “In recent years, we have had more and more numbers of cyclones in the Arabian Sea compared to the Bay of Bengal.
In year 2019, we had 8 cyclones, 5 in the Arabian Sea and only 3 in the Bay of Bengal. We could easily call it ‘The year of the Cyclones’. The western Equatorial Indian Ocean and southern Arabian Sea are the warmest regions of the global oceans. This has a profound influence on the formation of cyclones, and also on the monsoon rainfall.
Moreover, this year, Goa experienced two severe cyclonic storms – one in the Bay of Bengal called Mocha in May (pre-monsoon season), and Biparjoy in the Arabian Sea during the Monsoon season (June - September).”
Arti Das is a freelance journalist based in Goa. She loves writing about art, culture and the ecology of Goa.