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16 May 2024 | Media Advisory

Southwest monsoon outlook 2024: With region set for rising temperatures and above normal rain early warning an urgent priority in hugely exposed region

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Searing heat: The Government of Bangladesh was forced to close schools in April when temperatures rose to 42°C in some areas, impacting 33 million children; and the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, was among thousands of forest fires that engulfed the region, including in Nepal which saw wildfires blaze in every province when high temperatures followed below-average winter precipitation.

Kathmandu, [15 May 2024] – As Afghanistan reels from flash floods that have killed more than 300 people and destroyed thousands of homes, the countries of the Hindu Kush Himalaya are braced for what might be a difficult monsoon season ahead, with experts warning of above average temperatures, and higher rainfall than Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

The outlook for June to September comes after a heatwave broke temperature records across the region last month, forcing schools to close, impacting crops, and sparking forest fires. While pre-monsoon showers have provided some relief to some of South Asia this month, the climate outlook just published suggests any respite may be temporary.

The consensus from technical experts at the 28 sessions of the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF-28) held on 29 April 2024 in Pune, India is that the El Niño conditions prevailing over the equatorial Pacific region are likely to weaken to neutral El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions during early part of the monsoon season. (ENSO has a significant impact on monsoon variability.)

During the second half of the southwest monsoon season La Niña conditions are likely to develop: conditions commonly associated with above-normal rain.

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan are all expected to receive higher rainfall. And this rainfall will happen in a context of an overall warming trend: of higher-than-normal both minimum and maximum temperatures.

“In spite of the fact that last year was a year of below average rainfall in many parts of the HKH countries, we saw catastrophic floods hit region after region, community after community, in the mountains of the Hindu Kush Himalaya,” said Mandira Shrestha, Senior Water Resources Specialist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

“In that context, this year’s monsoon outlook is worrying. It is also set against an overall warming trend, which we know is linked to greater melting of snow and ice and the loss of the permafrost – the hidden glue that stabilizes many mountain slopes, and whose thawing is often a key factor in the sorts of devastating flash floods and landslides we are now seeing across our region. This forecast is an alert for funders, multilateral agencies and disaster management authorities in governments: multi-hazard early warning systems in this hugely populated region of rising risk must urgently be rolled out.”

One extreme to another: Record-Breaking Temperatures

While some regions will grapple with deadly downpours, others will face searing heat between June to September 2024.

As per the SASCOF-28 Climate Outlook, maximum temperatures for the month between June to September 2024 season suggest that, apart from some isolated areas, the seasonal maximum temperatures are most likely to be above normal over much of the region. The current heat wave is thus likely to continue through the monsoon with minimum temperatures also likely to be higher than normal.

Note to editors

About the outlook

This regional climate outlook for the 2024 southwest monsoon season over South Asia has been collaboratively developed by all nine National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of South Asia with support from international experts at the 28th session of the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF-28). The process involved an expert assessment of the prevailing global climate conditions, national-level forecasts, and forecasts from different climate forecasting agencies around the world.

Detailed report can be found here: www.imdpune.gov.in

For more information
Raz Tuladhar, Media Officer

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