With the winter season in India inching ever so closer with every passing date, the Meteorology Department has hinted that this might be the year that you need those extra warm pieces of clothing sitting deep inside the wardrobe. For this is the year that the La Niña effect will likely haunt India's winters, bringing the temperatures down lower to make the season colder than usual.
"If you consider the impact of large scale parameters - El Niño, La Niña - this year we have rich La Niña conditions. During La Niña years, usually, temperature over northern parts of the country becomes relatively low. In that situation, winter may be relatively colder," said IMD Director-General of Meteorology Mrutyunjay Mohapatra.
Basically, the La Niña (Spanish for 'the girl', pronounced ‘la-neen-yuh’) is the colder counterpart of a phenomenon that takes place over the Pacific Ocean, but has extensive effects on weather across the globe. The other part of this coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon is known as El Niño (Spanish for 'the boy', pronounced 'el-neen-yoh'), whose effects are the absolute opposite (warmer) to that of La Niña's.
Together, they form the broader El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern, affecting the climate of much of the tropics and the subtropics. The warming phase of the sea temperature is known as El Niño and the cooling phase as La Niña.
La Niña effect in India
La Niña episodes represent periods of below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific. Given that the Pacific Ocean is bordered by the Americas to the east, and Asia and Australia to the west, a La Niña year leaves wide-ranging impacts across weather and climatic conditions in these parts.
Under this effect, the warm surface water of the Pacific Ocean from South America is blown westwards towards Indonesia, thereby making waters in the eastern Pacific to be colder than normal by 3 to 5 °C.
La Niña impacts the global climate and disrupts normal weather patterns, which as a result can lead to intense storms in some places and droughts in others.
It has been reported that La Niña brings drought in South American countries like Peru and Ecuador, heavy floods in Australia, high temperatures off the Somalian coast, and a relatively better monsoon in India.
The La Niña effect in India this year may bring with it intermittent waves of extremely cold weather throughout the winter season, thereby proving harsher, more specifically in the northern parts of the country, than usual.