Kazakhstan braces for agricultural impact as La Niña approaches

climate change
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Global temperatures soared to record heights for twelve consecutive months, with May being the hottest ever recorded, according to climate experts. UN predictions suggest a transition from the warm El Niño to the cooler La Niña phenomenon by summer. This change may bring significant shifts in weather patterns, affecting regions of Kazakhstan and beyond, Kazinform News Agency correspondent reports.

Global temperatures last month were 1.52 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels, according to data from the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service (1850-1900). Although El Niño has had a brief impact since July of last year, human-caused global warming has been the main cause of this extraordinary warm run.

The central and eastern equatorial Pacific experience lower sea surface temperatures during La Niña, which usually leads to the opposite weather patterns as El Niño, particularly in tropical areas. Variations in tropical air circulation, encompassing wind patterns, atmospheric pressure, and precipitation levels, are contributing factors to this cooling trend.

The eastern equatorial Pacific is experiencing ENSO-neutral conditions with variable sea surface temperatures, according to recent NOAA observations, which could have an impact on Kazakhstan's agricultural sector. Subsurface temperatures below average and minor anomalies in sea temperatures (+0.1°C in Niño-3.4, -0.5°C in Niño-1+2, +0.8°C in Niño-4) indicate changing climatic dynamics. By September 2024, there is a 65% possibility that La Niña will form, and an 85% chance that it will last into winter, indicating that its influence on the global climate would be protracted.

In response, early frosts and less precipitation are predicted in northern and eastern Kazakhstan by Kirill Pavlov's recent analysis on Telegram, endangering autumn crops. Because of the predicted light and chilly temperatures, which could lower soil moisture for the upcoming growing season, Pavlov suggests using caution while planting winter crops. He advises storing hay since it can become limited the following year.

Southern regions expect warm, dry weather that will last for a while, which will impact the availability of water needed for irrigation. In order to handle any possible shortage, Pavlov suggests using water wisely and using storage devices. Similar to northern locations, western areas also have to deal with early frosts and a harsh, dry winter.

Experts say that Northern Kazakhstan is more susceptible to La Niña events, based on the FAO UN research on the impact of El Niño/La Niña droughts in the grain-producing regions of Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan (RUK). In Kazakhstan's main agricultural districts, La Niña usually makes drought conditions worse than El Niño occurrences with significant droughts in the post-Soviet period recorded in Kazakhstan during 1998, 2008, 2010, and 2012.

AgroInfo reports that El Niño in Kazakhstan resulted in heavy rainfall and waterlogged circumstances, especially in the wet August and October of 2023, which negatively affected the 2023 crop and forced farmers to face financial losses and late loan repayments. Although there is a 70% probability of La Niña developing between August and November 2024, which might bring hot and dry conditions, El Niño's aftereffects could still cause heavy rainfall until December 2024, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). AgroInfo underlines that Kazakhstan's farmers are eager for a dryer season but remain cautious, cognizant of the continued implications of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions causing extreme weather events.

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