Warming of the Indian Ocean and its Impact on Rainfall

The Indian Ocean is extremely important in modulating and regulating the climatic conditions over its rim countries. Many oceanic and atmospheric processes play a vital role in influencing rainfall, drought, cyclones, and other weather patterns, hence supporting diverse ecosystems as well as shaping the agricultural sectors in these countries.

However, with the increases in sea surface temperatures (SST), as a result of climate change and global warming, in the Indian Ocean, these crucial oceanic and atmospheric dynamics are shifting, with unprecedented and devastating effects on the surrounding communities. In fact, “sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean have warmed by approximately 1°C since 1950, among the fastest rate of increase in the global oceans” (Wenegrat et al.).

These changes in the temperature of the ocean are having a profound impact on weather patterns worldwide. For instance, in the Indian subcontinent, the cyclone season is becoming more intense as a result of warming ocean temperatures. “A 2016 Nature study found anthropogenic global heating had contributed to the increased frequency of extremely severe cyclonic storms over the Arabian Sea” (Vallangi). India is particularly vulnerable to these intense storms, especially considering that 14% of the entire population lives in coastal areas and will most likely be heavily affected by storms of increased intensity and frequency.

Although this warming trend seems to increase rainfall and storms over the Indian Ocean and in India’s coastal regions, the South Asian monsoon, also referred to as the Indian Summer Monsoon, might weaken over land. It is important to note, however, that although the overall monsoon season is weakening, instances of heavy rains during the season seize. The fluctuation of wind patterns that are caused by global warming will most likely result in short spurts of heavy rainfall amidst a vast dry period with minimal rainfall. These changes in rainfall patterns over South Asia “is a matter of grave concern since the socio-economic livelihood in this region, including agriculture, water resources, and power generation are irrevocably dependent on it” (Jayaraman).

The warming of the Indian Ocean is forecasted to have devastating impacts on the agricultural industry in India, as well as the coastal communities of the country. Considering the above information and evidence, it is of crucial importance to clearly understand the regional impacts of a weakening monsoon season and the onset of longer, more intense storms in order to devise appropriate responses.

Works Cited

Jayaraman, K. S. “Warming Indian Ocean weakens monsoon.” Nature India, 17 June 2015, https://www.nature.com/articles/nindia.2015.81. Accessed 5 May 2023.

Padma, T. V. “Higher Sea Surface Temperatures Could Lead to a Weaker Monsoon.” Eos, 6 April 2022,

https://eos.org/articles/higher-sea-surface-temperatures-could-lead-to-a-weaker- monsoon. Accessed 5 May 2023.

Perinchery, Aathira. “Climate Change is Altering the Dynamics of the Indian Ocean in Enormous Ways.” The Wire, 8 March 2022,


dian-ocean. Accessed 5 May 2023.

Vallangi, Neelima. “Rapid heating of Indian Ocean worsening cyclones, say scientists.” The Guardian, 27 May 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/27/rapid-heating-of-indian-o cean-worsening-cyclones-say-scientists. Accessed 5 May 2023.

Wenegrat, J. O., et al. “A Century of Observed Temperature Change in the Indian Ocean.” Geophysical Research Letters, 25 June 2022. Advanced Earth and Space Sciences, https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2022GL098217 :~:text=Sea% 2Dsurface%20temperature%20(SST),et%20al.%2C%202014). Accessed 5 May 2023.

Published by LakesOfIndia

Lakes of India is an E.F.I initiative aimed at sensitizing the larger public on freshwater habitats across the country. A blog platform where one can read about lakes across India. You can become a guest blogger to write about a lake in your hometown and initiate an action to protect that lake.

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