Climate change: ‘India is witnessing shift in monsoon weather system’

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By Anshul Sharma

[NEW DELHI] Climate change is expected to have a major impact on India. An HSBC study in March has ranked India as the most vulnerable country to climate change among 67 developed, emerging and frontier markets. Another World Bank study has said that climate change will lower the standards of living of nearly half of India’s population by 2050.

Mr Mahesh Palawat, Vice president, Meteorology And climate Change at Skymet

Mr Mahesh Palawat, Vice president, Meteorology And climate Change at Skymet, India’s largest private weather forecasting service, talks to the Development Channel about the effects of climate change on India in terms of various adverse weather conditions.

This monsoon we have seen more than usual Indian states facing floods. Can we associate this different and recurring flood situation to the climate change?

The climatic changes are being observed. Earlier the low-pressure areas used to form over the Bay of Bengal and the excess of monsoon used to travel from that area to North-West across West Bengal, Bihar, U.P., Delhi and Haryana. But since last 8 to 10 years, we are seeing that gradually the weather system that is being developed over the Bay of Bengal travels westerly across Orissa, Chhattisgarh… Consequently, Central India has been facing floods while Northern India is almost dry.

Maharashtra State Government declared eight talukas as drought affected areas recently in April and now in June Mumbai is facing a high volume of floods. What’s your take on it?

There were scanty rains in the month of April. The Pre Monsoon season was very less not only in Maharashtra but all over the country and hence the droughts.

Maharashtra has four meteorological divisions, the three of which experience a good amount of rainfall, whereas Marathwada is mostly drought hit. During the monsoon, there is excessive rainfall in Konkan which covers Mumbai, Ratnagiri, Dhanu which causes floods. Moreover, Mumbai floods can also be attributed to the urbanization which blocks the outflow of water.

What would you like to comment on the Dust Storms which struck the Northern States in the month of May?

In the Pre Monsoon Season, North-West India observed intense dust storm activities due to the intense heat during April- May. The temperature rose significantly and then there was slight variation in the easterly wind from the Bay of Bengal which increased the moisture. This mixture of high moisture and high temperature lead to the production of high-intensity winds along with lightning and thunder.

What kind of future does the climate change hold for India?

Climate Change and Global Warming are adversely affecting the environment all over the world. Due to Climate Change, monsoon pattern is changing, the intensity of severe weather activities is also increasing, cloudburst incidents are on the rise over hilly areas, Heatwave conditions are extended these days, intense thundershower and dust storm activities are observed. Also, excess snowfall activities are being observed over the Western Himalayas.

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