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Link between El Niños and droughts in India

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12:15pm, September 13, 2006

Scientists report that droughts in India are associated with a particular type of El Niño, the climate phenomenon marked by increased sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific.

The rainy season in India occurs in June, July, and August. Between 1871 and 2002, central India experienced 10 severe summertime droughts, says Martin Hoerling, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo. Every one of those dry spells occurred during an El Niño, he notes. However, not all El Niños during that 132-year period caused droughts—in 13 cases, summer rainfall during an El Niño was at or slightly above normal.

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