One of Kashmir’s main winter tourism attractions, Gulmarg, has been bereft of snow this season. This has led to a plunge in the flow of tourists and severely hitting the business of ski resorts.
GS I: Geography
Dimensions of the Article:
- Dry Winter in Jammu & Kashmir: Causes and Implications
- Impacts of Dry Winter
- Normal Climatic Conditions: The Pacific Ocean Influence
- El Nino and La Nina
Dry Winter in Jammu & Kashmir: Causes and Implications
- Traditionally, Jammu and Kashmir, including Ladakh, experience winter precipitation in the form of snowfall.
- Normal snowfall patterns include the first snowfall in the first half of December continuing through most of January.
- Unusual dry conditions observed this winter, with no significant rains or snowfall.
- Jammu and Kashmir witnessed an 80% rainfall deficit in December and a 100% deficit (no rain) in January.
Reasons behind the Dry Winter:
- Decreasing snowfall trend attributed to a decline in western disturbance events and rising temperatures, indicative of climate change.
- The prevailing El Niño event in the eastern Pacific Ocean considered an additional factor influencing this year’s conditions.
- Western disturbances, crucial for winter precipitation, have been decreasing, with only a few feeble events this season.
- Increasing temperatures, especially in upper elevation areas, contribute to the decline in snowfall.
- Srinagar temperatures sometimes comparable to or even higher than Delhi, affecting the region’s winter climate.
El Niño Impact:
- Persisting El Niño has disrupted global atmospheric circulation, potentially contributing to the precipitation deficit in the region.
Impacts of Dry Winter:
- Reduced hydroelectricity generation due to less snowfall.
- Increased rate of glacier melting.
- Adverse effects on drinking water supply with scanty snowfall leading to minimal groundwater recharge.
- Higher risk of forest fires, agricultural drought, and reduced crop production during a dry spell.
- Early spring onset can negatively impact crop yields, especially for winter crops like horticulture.
- Critical for the local economy, a lack of snowfall affects yields of apples and saffron, impacting livelihoods.
Normal Climatic Conditions: The Pacific Ocean Influence
Ocean Temperature and Weather:
- Weather patterns are significantly influenced by ocean temperatures, where warmer oceans lead to increased cloud formation and rainfall.
- The Pacific Ocean, especially near the equator, experiences elevated temperatures due to the Sun.
Normal Atmospheric Circulation:
- Under typical conditions, a low-pressure system forms in northern Australia and Indonesia, while a high-pressure system develops off the coast of Peru.
- This results in strong trade winds blowing from east to west over the Pacific, transporting warm surface waters westward.
- Convective storms, including thunderstorms, are common over Indonesia and coastal Australia.
El Nino and La Nina
Frequency and Duration:
- El Nino and La Nina are opposing climate trends, deviating from normal conditions and lasting nine to twelve months, with potential extensions.
- These events occur irregularly, every two to seven years on average, with El Nino being more frequent than La Nina.
- Collectively referred to as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle by scientists.
El Nino – Warm Phase:
- El Nino is characterized by a band of warmer water spreading from west to east in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
- The warm phase disrupts normal atmospheric patterns, impacting global weather, ecosystems, and economics.
La Nina – Cold Phase:
- La Nina involves a band of cooler water spreading east-west in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
- The cold phase also influences global weather, ecosystems, and economic factors, but in contrasting ways to El Nino.
- Both El Nino and La Nina have far-reaching effects on weather patterns, wildfires, ecosystems, and economies worldwide.
- These climate phenomena play a crucial role in shaping the variability and unpredictability of weather events on a global scale.
-Source: Indian Express