India’s August 2023: Driest and Hottest in Over a Century – Monsoon Deficiency Raises Concerns for Agriculture

August 2023 witnessed record-breaking dry and hot conditions across India. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) reported that it was the driest and warmest August in over a century, with historic lows in monsoon precipitation across central and southern regions.

Also read: Why has Northeast monsoon remained subdued this year?

Historic Drought Conditions

  • August 2023 marked an unprecedented drought, with the lowest rainfall since 1901.
  • Central India and the South Peninsular region experienced the driest monsoon in 122 years.

Extreme Heatwave:

  • Average maximum and mean temperatures in India soared to their highest levels since 1901.
  • August 2023 saw extreme heatwave conditions.

Monsoon Breaks and Impact:

  • Two significant monsoon breaks occurred in August (5-16 and 27-31 August).
  • The monsoon trough’s northward shift led to unfavorable conditions for plains’ rainfall.
  • El Nino and unfavorable Madden Julian Oscillation adversely affected August’s rainfall.

September Forecast and Concerns:

IMD predicts normal to above-normal rainfall in September. Water reservoir levels have been falling, raising concerns for Kharif crops. Uneven monsoons already affect Kharif sowing, particularly in pulses.

Economic Impact and Inflation:

  • Weak production may elevate food inflation.
  • Government support measures like subsidized vegetable supply and reduced LPG prices could ease pressure.

Agricultural Challenges

  • Pulse, groundnut, cotton, and jute prices may remain high due to deficient rainfall.
  • Rice, despite higher sowing, faces pressure.

Reservoir Levels and Future Worries:

Water levels in key reservoirs have dropped significantly. Falling reservoir levels impact drinking water, cattle, and Rabi sowing.

Monsoon and the Economy:

Monsoon rains drive India’s economy, crucial for agriculture and power generation. Over 50% of India’s arable land relies on monsoon rainfall.

El Nino and IOD Influence:

  • El Nino’s warming effect in the Pacific affects Indian monsoons.
  • Positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) may mitigate El Nino’s effects.

Monsoon Delay:

  • Monsoon withdrawal from Southwest Rajasthan is delayed by around two weeks compared to the usual September 1st timeframe.

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India faces significant challenges following an extraordinary August. September’s rainfall will impact agriculture, reservoirs, and the economy.

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