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Heat wave likely to hit Bengal's fish, agriculture harvest

Posted on May 21 2014 | IANS

Kolkata, May 21 : Warm ocean currents in the Pacific are vastly affecting the weather in West Bengal. With the forecast of delayed monsoon along with dry spells and high temperatures, this would most likely impact the fish harvest and agriculture, experts said Wednesday.

According to meteorologists across the globe, extreme weather events fuelled by unusually strong El Ninos (anomalous warm ocean currents) - such as the 1983 heat wave that led to massive bush fires in Australia - are likely to double as our planet warms more.

Monsoon rainfall in India this year is likely to be below average and there is a 60 percent chance that El Nino will affect agricultural output and economic growth, according to data provided by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and Earth System Science Organisation (ESSO).

Average rainfall during the 2014 monsoon season (June to September) across the country is likely to be 88 percent with a five percent margin of error.

Bengal has seen unusually high temperatures this year, touching 42 to 43 degrees Celsius in some districts.

The average temperature will be higher this summer. In Bengal, since it is a coastal state, this dry spell will disturb the salinity levels in the ocean.

Tuhin Ghosh, joint director, School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University told IANS: "With scanty rainfall, the saline water will not be flushed out and this excess salt concentration would interfere with fish catch and agricultural output".

"Rainfall brings about a mix between salt water and fresh water that creates temperature difference, a necessary criteria for fish to migrate to these pockets, but because of the long dry spell the ambient environment will not be available to them," said Ghosh.

Ghosh also pointed out that the uncontrolled felling of trees in areas around Jharkhand has obliterated the barrier that earlier used to obstruct the hot winds coming in from the west.

"There has been a reverse shifting of wind pockets and the effects are being felt already," he said.

For farmers, this unnatural pattern spells a different seed sowing regime, said Ashujyoti Das, managing director, Express Weather, which provides location specific weather forecasts for supporting multiple core sector activities, primarily agriculture.

"We are predicting a delayed rainfall and for that farmers will need to sow accordingly or they may end up losing their agricultural input," Das said.

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