IRI Climate Digest
Climate Impacts - June
Contributions to this page were made by IRI researchers
Dr. M. Hopp,
Dr. T. Kestin,
Dr. B. Lyon,
Dr. A. Seth,
Africa - Africa: West
Still early in the rainy season, June rainfall was above-normal throughout much of West Africa and the Sahel, including much of Mali, Burkina Faso, and southeastern and southwestern Niger. However, except for Dakar itself, below-normal June rainfall was recorded in much of Senegal and western Mali. According to the CPC Africa Desk, the onset of the rainy season is on schedule, except for areas in Senegal, southern Mauritania, and western Mali. A better rainy season this year would be welcomed in the western Sahel. After the weather-related deaths of large numbers of livestock in January 2002 and the severe drought during the 2002 summer rainy season, large numbers of people in Mauritania have come to rely upon emergency aid and support from migrating family members. Although the emergency aid and other support have helped to avert an extreme food crisis, farmers and herders have been forced to employ a variety of coping strategies. (FEWS Net, FEWS Net, FAO/GIEWS, CPC/FEWS)
The latest IRI seasonal forecast indicates a slightly increased probability of above-normal precipitation in West Africa during the August-October 2003 season.
Asia - Bangladesh,India,Nepal
Monsoon rains brought seasonal flooding and landslides to the Brahmaputra, Ganges, Meghna, Padma, and Jamuna River basins in eastern Nepal, eastern India, and Bangladesh, resulting in unofficial nationwide death tolls of 30, 203, and 80, respectively, as of 15 July. Many of the deaths in Bangladesh were due to landslides in the southeast. Millions are said to be affected by the slides and flooding in the 15 affected districts in Bangladesh and soil erosion has become a serious concern as well. Nearly 5 million people have been displaced in India, most of whom live in Assam and Bihar, the most seriously affected Indian provinces. Water shortages and water-borne diseases are also causing problems and efforts to fight outbreaks of malaria and Japanese encephalitis are underway. (IFRC, AFP, Reuters, DPA, AFP)
The monsoon season typically lasts from June to September in eastern India and Bangladesh and regularly causes flooding in the major rivers and tributaries in the area. Thus far in the current season, the rains in the affected area have been slightly above normal. Bangladesh officials state that much of the current situation is considered to be normal, while, according to Indian officials, a portion of the severity of the situation there can be blamed on the fact that only 40% of the damage from last year's floods was fixed due to insufficient funds.
Asia - China
Heavy rains, which began around June 20 and dropped as much as 400 mm (16 in) of rain in some areas, have brought damaging floods and landslides to portions of southern, central, and eastern China. Approximately 100 million people have been affected and 500,000 homes have been destroyed in 16 provinces by the floods and heavy rain. The Huai River valley, home to 150 million people and one of the major grain producing regions, has been hit the hardest. Nationwide economic losses have been approximated to be 4.8 billion USD, half of which occurred in the Huai River valley. In Anhui Province, one of three provinces in the river valley, 1 million people have been evacuated and water levels have reached record levels in many areas, destroying 2 million hectares of farmland. In an effort to save large cities and industrial towns along the river in Anhui, dam gates were opened and embankments were blown up to divert the flood waters. While the current floods are being compared to those of 1991 and 1998, the most recent nationwide death toll of 589 is a fraction of those of the earlier events, which were measured in the thousands. (IFRC, AFP, IFRC, OCHA, Reuters) The rains proved to be beneficial in the northeast, however, as they provided much needed moisture for emerging crops there. (USDA)
Climatologically, spring is the wettest season of the year in many of the affected areas. Over the past 12 years, there has been an average of 3750 flood-related deaths per year in China, many of which typically occur in late spring and early summer. (AFP)
Africa - Mozambique
Precipitation totals in extreme southern Mozambique were less than half of normal for the 2002-2003 rainy season, sparking concerns over water shortages in the area. (FEWS Net) This weak performance of the seasonal rains, along with the abundance of rain from cyclones in the north, caused a large disparity in precipitation and cereal production between the two regions. Poor water quality due to the dry conditions has been blamed for almost 12,000 cholera cases reported in Mozambique, including 87 deaths, since the beginning of the year, with the southern provinces of Gaza, Sofala and Maputo most severely affected. (IRIN) Thirteen percent of the country's child mortality rate (24.6 percent) is due to diarrhea cases caused by lack of water and proper sanitation brought on, in part, by the alternating flooding and dry conditions. (IRIN)
Asia - Pakistan
Long-term drought in Pakistan has led to water shortages and related health ailments in the Sindh Province. Approximately 150,000 people live in villages near the coastal city of Karachi, many of whom have been forced to use dirty and contaminated water. Nearly 500 people in these communities have been diagnosed with health problems related to the poor water quality, including fever and skin and eye allergies. (IRIN)
North America - United States
Recent PDSI values indicate moderate to extreme drought conditions in many climate divisions in the western U.S., although other indicators (12-Month WASP, 12-Month SPI) suggest more moderate conditions after good spring rains. The latest NIFC Wildland Fire Outlook
suggests that persistent drought in the west, drought-stressed and insect-damaged vegetation, and abundant fuel material mean that an
above-normal fire season is likely in the western U.S. Although much of the region experienced above-normal precipitation during the spring,
June precipitation was well below normal. Several years of drought in the southwest have made ponderosa and piņon pine trees vulnerable to
bark beetle infestations which have killed millions of the trees and further exacerbated the danger of wildfires.
(NIFC, Reuters, Palm Springs Desert Sun, AP/Arizona Daily Sun, The Arizona Republic)
Africa - Africa: Greater Horn
In Ethiopia, the Kiremt (June-September) rains had started in most places by the end of June. In Eritrea, preparation for summer planting was reportedly delayed due to the late onset of rainfall and shortages of seed and fertilizer (WFP). The onset of rains in Kenya and Somalia (FEWS Net) was delayed earlier in the year as well, which slowed crop development in Kenya in spite of very heavy rains (especially in the west) from mid-April to mid-May (FEWS Net). The food security situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea and parts of the Sudan remains grim. As many as 12.6 million people in Ethiopia will need food aid until after the belg (February-April short rains) season harvest in July. In Eritrea, it is estimated that 1.4 million of 2.3 million food
insecure people have been affected by the drought (FEWS Net). Malnutrition rates continue to rise in both Ethiopia and Eritrea, and have reached as high as 44 percent
among infants in Pibor county in the Upper Nile region of Sudan (IRIN).
The latest IRI seasonal forecast suggests a slightly enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation in much of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Kenya, and a slightly to moderately enhanced probability of above-normal rainfall in much of central and southern Sudan during August-October 2003.
Asia - Afghanistan
Although water is still a scarce commodity in Afghanistan after years of war and drought, better rainfall since September 2002 is expected to contribute to a record wheat harvest and has reportedly helped water resources in the southern part of the country. USDA is projecting a record wheat harvest this year due to the end of dry conditions in most areas of the country. According to the USDA report, estimated accumulated precipitation this spring was higher than last year's total in all regions except the west. The wetter conditions in the fall of 2002 may have induced farmers to increase the acreage planted, helping to increase production. As of mid-June, the wheat harvest had started and was expected to continue until August. Improved rainfall in recent months has also brought some relief in southern Afghanistan, where farmers and nomadic herders have been affected by the long-term drought. The Gand-i-Dhala reservoir north of Kandahar has reportedly refilled after having gone dry in June 2000. (AFP)
Asia - Kyrgyzstan
Above-average precipitation in June brought a variety of impacts to Kyrgyzstan, which climatologically receives most of its annual rainfall in spring. The worst fruit harvest in 35 years, according to village elders in the southern provinces of Osh, Batken, and Jalal-Abad, was blamed on the rains and recurring frost. The apricot harvest in Batken has dropped 75 percent from that of last year. Fruit prices have climbed to unaffordable levels in many areas, worrying officials that the lack of fruit in children's diets will bring the many health impacts associated with vitamin deficiencies. The rains also came during an ongoing debate about improving the country's environmental policy and preparedness for its frequent natural disasters (IRIN, IRIN, IRIN)
Asia - India
The IFRC has issued a new appeal to aid the 300 million people affected by the long-term drought in India. Rajasthan has been hit the hardest of the 12 affected states, where 54 million livestock have been lost and 4.8 million hectares of crops have been destroyed. The current drought, which was heightened by last year's monsoon failure, is said to tbe the most widespread in 15 years. Officials are concerned about the population, particularly women and children, as food security and water quality continue to be serious problems. (12-month WASP Index)
The lastest IRI seasonal forecast for the August-October 2003 season indicates a slightly enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation in most of western India. The lastest monsoon forecasts from the
India Meteorological Department (IMD) can be found here.
Australia and New Zealand - Australia
According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), persistent drought is partly to blame for a forecast reduction in the value of Australian commodity exports for 2003-04. The value of agricultural exports is forecast to decline by about 5.3 percent from the previous year. Although June rainfall was near-average across Australia, long-term (15-month) rainfall deficits continued in much of Queensland and New South Wales. (New York Times, BBC, BOM)
Europe - Europe: East,Europe: South
Record high monthly temperatures were recorded in Europe in June, and there were several reports of deaths and hospitalizations from heat exhaustion in southern and southeastern Europe. The Swiss Meteorological Service reported that June 2003 was the warmest on record (AP Worldstream), and it was the warmest June in Malta since 1947 (Malta Independent Daily). Rotating power cuts were instituted in Italy in order to relieve the demand on the electrical grid brought on by customer response to the high temperatures (Europe Energy). The high temperatures were blamed for at least 11 deaths in Italy (DPA), and deaths and hospitalizations in Croatia, Bulgaria, and Serbia (Xinhua). Additionally, below normal precipitation during most of the spring and into June, and temperatures well above-normal during the month contributed to a continuing decline in crop conditions in southern and eastern Europe, including the winter wheat crop in the Ukraine. (DPA, USDA, USDA)
Oceania - Solomon Islands
Although the official cyclone season ends in April, Cyclone Gina passed within 56 km of Tikopia Island on 5-6 June and badly damaged over 100 houses. Landslides reportedly destroyed large number of food crops as well. The island is still recovering from extreme damage caused by Cyclone Zoë, a category 5 hurricane which hit the island at the end of December 2002. (OCHA, East-West Center, AFP, OCHA)