WESTERN DISTURBANCE (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Geogrpahy)

News-CRUX-10     26th March 2024        

Context: Recently, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) announced that after crossing 30 degrees Celsius (°C) for the first time this year, mercury is expected to hover around 31-32°C before decreasing again, as a western disturbance begins to impact the region.

Western Disturbance

  • About: It is an extratropical storm that originates in the Mediterranean region.
  • Formation: Originating in the middle and upper latitudes, it is an extratropical storm system.
  • Non-Monsoonal Precipitation: The precipitation pattern affecting northern India is non-monsoonal and stems from the Mediterranean region, resulting in both rainfall and snowfall.
  • Impact on Surrounding Nations: Beginning as non-monsoonal precipitation in the Mediterranean, the weather system moves eastward, influencing various regions in Pakistan, India, and neighboring countries.
  • Impact on the Indian Subcontinent: It brings sudden winter rain to the northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent.
  • Causes: When the Himalayas and western parts of central Asia intersect with the jet stream in the upper atmosphere, creating a low-pressure area and subsequent disturbance.
  • Outcome: In the northern regions of India, this weather phenomenon results in rainfall in plains and snowfall in mountainous areas.
  • Declining Intensity Trend: Over recent years, there has been a declining trend in the intensity of Western disturbances, with Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh experiencing 47% and 40% less rain than usual from October to December in 2023.
  • Contributing Factor: Climate change, primarily driven by human activities such as fossil fuel combustion, is causing a long-term shift in weather patterns.
  • Impact of Climate Change: Diminishing intensity and frequency of western disturbances, leading to reduced post-monsoon season rainfall and snowfall. This, in turn, affects agriculture and water availability in mountainous regions.
  • Decline in Apple Production: Prolonged drought and insufficient snowfall contribute to a decline in apple production.
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