KOCHI: Despite the slight drizzle in some parts of the city on Thursday, one can’t help but notice the lack of clouds in the sky. The absence of these condensed vapours has led to direct sunlight falling onto the land. The result? Intense, scorching heat.
“Right now, the wind is blowing from the North-West which is unfavourable for moisture incursion from the sea onto the land. This reduces the possibilities of cloud formation,” said K Santosh, director, IMD. According to him, clouds are formed only when the wind blows in a cyclonic, anti-clockwise manner.
According to Santhosh, the current flow is clockwise at the moment, leaving the sky almost devoid of clouds. “This is attributed to the change in atmosphere, primarily due to the El Nino phenomenon in the Pacific region,” said MG Manoj, research scientist with the Advanced Centre for Atmospheric Radar Research (ACARR) of Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) in Kochi.
The implications stemming from a cloudless sky are drastic. “Clouds filter about 30-50 per cent of the sunlight. Without them, sunlight directly falls on the earth’s surface. Additionally, in the absence of clouds, the ultra-violet component present in the spectrum also reaches the earth without filter, activating cancerous cells in the skin and causing higher degrees of sunstroke,” Manoj said.
The phenomenon has also reduced the chances of summer showers, which could else have provided respite from the heat. “Last year, summer rains began in March. The depression formed in the Arabian Sea was 200 km close to the Kerala coast. This generated good showers in the second week of March followed by better showers, which was as strong as the south-west monsoon, in April and May,” he said.
Last year, the state experienced an additional 37 per cent of summer rain. This year, it is deficient by 30 per cent. “There is an inadequacy of more than 90 per cent in districts like Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Palakkad. In comparison, Ernakulam was deficient by 82 per cent of rain, which translates to a mere 18 per cent of rain this year,” he said.
There are other causes for the severe heat, said Manoj. “In Ernakulam, presently, the air temperature is equivalent to the body temperature. More over, there is 50 per cent humidity in the lower-level of the atmosphere. The body is only at ease if the air temperature is lower.