New Delhi : Conditions prevailing through the first half of the monsoon season could give way to El Niño toward the end of the season, raising concern over its potential impact on early withdrawal of the monsoon.

According to the latest Monsoon Mission Coupled Forecasting System, neutral conditions are likely to persist during the monsoon season which would mean that its impact on the monsoon would be normal, but a weak El Niño is likely to develop at the end of the season.

El Niño generally hampers the progress of the south-west monsoon and is associated with droughts. More than the summer monsoon this year, the impact of El Niño on the south-west monsoon next year assumes more significance as the El Niño is expected to have fully developed by then.

An important factor which impacts the rainfall over the region, El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is an ocean-phenomenon which has three states, El Niño, neutral and La Niña .

The US Climate Prediction Centre has also recently released an ‘El Niño watch’ indicating transition of neutral conditions to El Niño . In its latest update, the US weather agency predicts the chances of El Niño increasing to about 65% during fall in October and to about 70 per cent during winter.

“There could be a slight impact. But, it would be in the last part of the monsoon, may be September-end. We will come up with our analysis and new forecast by month-end for second half of the monsoon season. We are running our prediction models and will release the update soon," said D.S. Pai, Head, Climate Prediction Group, India Meteorological Department (IMD), Pune.

Scientists also highlight that it is too early to accurately predict the potential impact of El Nino on monsoon as it is still in the growing phase. Each El Niño and La Niña evolves differently, and the transition also varies from event to event.

“El Niño has to fully develop, before it can make a significant impact. But if it develops, in that case, its effect could be seen over south-peninsula as monsoon is close to withdrawal that time," said Prof Sridhar Balasubramanian of IIT Bombay.

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