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El Nino/La Nina and IOD impact on Kharif season crops over western agro-climatic zones of India


Climate modes like ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) and IOD (Indian Ocean Dipole) produce an impact on the monsoon rainfall over India. Monsoon rainfall is extremely important for the agriculture of our country. The impact of these climate modes on monsoon rainfall thus in turn affects the rain-fed crops (kharif). In this study, four kharif season crops namely rice (Oryza sativa), maize (Zea mays), pulses and sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) are chosen over four arid/semi-arid agro-climatic zones of western India to study the effect of the climate modes on selected crops. The detailed analysis has been carried out to show the impact of rainfall in the El Nino/La Nina (phases of ENSO) and IOD years on the crop productions over the mentioned zones viz. (Central plateau and hills region; Western plateau and hills region; Gujarat hills and plains region; Western dry region) from 1966–2011. The results show that rice productions which require hot and humid conditions have been largely affected during drought years associated with El Nino which results in poor rainfall over all the zones. The production of pulses which does not require excess humid conditions shows marginal improvement during the neutral years or non-El Nino/non-La Nina years. Maize production seems to be better in La Nina years and worst in the El Nino years as La Nina years are responsible for good rainfall in all zones. El Nino years provide a minor impact on sugarcane productions in different zones. La Nina years are well suited for sugarcane production in all zones of our study as sugarcane requires a good amount of moisture. Positive IOD years are associated with poor crop productions as compared to negative IOD years mostly in all zones as most of the positive IOD years happen to be El Nino years. El Nino-rainfall relation being dominant than positive IOD-rainfall relation is, therefore, responsible for negative rainfall anomalies over the selected zones.

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The author wants to thank Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM, Pune) for providing the rainfall data required in the study, NOAA, Climate Prediction Centre for ONI data and NOAA, Physical Science Laboratory for DMI data and thank Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) for positive and negative IOD year’s data. The author also wants to thank International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT-IN) for providing crop production data.


This project was funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Earth Science (MoES), Govt. of India in the form of the Centre for Excellence in Climate Change.

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R.B. helps in the conceptualisation of the study. S.B. and S.V. have analysed the data and provide methodology. R.K.M. and R.S.S. have guided in the agriculture section, review and editing of the manuscript. S.G., S.V. and R.B. completed the writing of original manuscript of the paper.

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Correspondence to R. Bhatla.

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Bhatla, R., Bhattacharyya, S., Verma, S. et al. El Nino/La Nina and IOD impact on Kharif season crops over western agro-climatic zones of India. Theor Appl Climatol 151, 1355–1368 (2023).

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