Don't think no record was broken at the Eden dust bowl while you were baking in the stands yesterday: the Calcutta temperature breached a decade-old barrier. When the mercury bubbled up to 39.6

For the first time, the meteorological department will give probability estimates of drought and excess rainfall for the country as part of its much-awaited April forecast of the southwest monsoon. The department will continue to stick to a new technique it used last year for forecasting the monsoon though it led to predictions that turned out to be way off.

The International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society at the University of Columbia has come out with more daring predictions on the Indian monsoon compared to those made public by India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday. The most glaring difference in perception relates to rainfall trends for northwest India. While the IMD was apologetic about the prospects for this region, the IRI predicts good rainfall here during the July-August-September and August-September-October quarters.

For the India Meteorological Department (IMD), it has been an annual ritual for the past 20 years to issue its long-range monsoon forecast around this time of the year, though the credibility of these predictions has been on the wane. The projection that the rainfall during this year's monsoon season (June to September) will be equal to 99 per cent of the long-period average, should therefore be viewed with some caution, even if prima facie it is a good news for the country's farmers, economy and the hydrological balance.

Facing all-round flak on galloping inflation, the government on Wednesday tried to wash away some of its worries by predicting a "near-normal' south-west monsoon for the year, suggesting that increased farm production could be expected.

The south west monsoon, crucial to agriculture, is likely to be near normal this year, the Meteorological Department has forecast amid hopes that good summer rains would lead to an easing in the price situation. "India Meteorological Department's long-range forecast for the 2008 southwest monsoon season (June-September) is that rainfall for the country as a whole is likely to be near normal," earth sciences minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here. Quantitatively, monsoon season rainfall is likely to be 99 per cent of the long period average with a model error of five per cent.

Sudden Climate Change And Dug-Up Roads Add To Residents' Woes

As the sudden fog over Delhi and NCR on Sunday stumped most people, environmentalists and meteorological experts said this was possibly the outcome of extremely high levels of pollution.

Behaviour of monsoon in different climates to be assessed Integrated adaptation strategies to be identified The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has initiated an inter-continental collaborative research on air pollution. The Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research (Bioforsk), Norway, and the International Pacific Research Centre, University of Hawaii, will collaborate with the university in the project, which is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Indian Meteorological Department and the Department of Science and Technology will also be involved. The Monterrey Tech., Mexico, will extend technical support in nano-nutrients that will help to minimise the impact of greenhouse gases, said a release. Scientific platform "The project will provide a scientific platform for these institutes to initiate research on mitigating the negative impact of global warming on Indian agriculture, especially in rice productivity,' says S. Natarajan, Director, Centre for Soil and Crop Management Studies, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. The project will assess the behaviour of monsoon in different climates, and its impact on water availability and rice production in different meteorological sub-divisions. The research, Mr. Natarajan reckons, will lead to identification and implementation of integrated adaptation strategies to sustain rice productivity under changing climatic conditions. Vice-Chancellor C. Ramasamy and Mr. Natarajan will lead the steering committee.

India witnesses hotter summers, shorter winters. Shape of things to come?