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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

No relief from rising celsius

Joydeep Thakur, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, April 14, 2013
First Published: 15:38 IST(14/4/2013) | Last Updated: 15:40 IST(14/4/2013)

Rampant construction and unchecked use of fossil fuels in the city have led to a rise in it’s average temperature over the last 100 years as compared to other metros

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A squall and gust of wind may come as relief on some rare afternoon but it is excruciating heat and humidity that people have to bear with in the coming months. And, they can only blame themselves for turning nature against mankind.

Rapid urbanization, increasing population, uncontrolled use of fossil fuel and several other human induced factors are taking a heavy toll on the climatic patterns in the state, experts have claimed.

As a result, the mean temperature in Kolkata has increased by nearly 1 degree Celsius over the past century — the highest among the four metros: Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai, a recent study has revealed.

“While the mean annual temperature of Kolkata have increased by 0.9 degrees Celsius over a period of hundred years, in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai it has increased by 0.2, 0.6 and 0.56 degrees respectively over the same period,” said Amit G Dhorde, scientist with Pune University who headed the study.

Kolkatans have been feeling the heat for the past few years with the summer of 2010 recorded as the hottest since 1901. Fewer nor’westers and thundershowers contributed to the rise in temperature and the city experienced heat wave for several days at a stretch. Things are going the same way in 2013.

“Normally Kolkata receives around two to three nor’westers in March and three to four nor’westers in April. But this year there has been only one so far. This has led the temperature to rise to nearly 39.6 degrees Celsius in April. And May, the most grueling of the summer months, is yet to arrive,” said GC Debnath, director of the regional meteorological department.

But it’s not just temperature that is shooting up. Scientists have also warned that with the change in climatic pattern, cyclonic storms would be more frequent but more intense. The heat and humidity would give birth to more vector-bourne diseases as well.

“Increased pollution resulting from rampant use of fossil fuel, loss of greenery, rapid and unbridled urbanization are some of the factors which could be blamed for this change in the city’s weather. The colossal concrete buildings trap heat and make the city a furnace during summer months,” said Joyasree Roy, head of the global change program at Jadavpur University.

But is it just these factors or, are there some more? The Union ministry of earth sciences has proposed to take up a major study along with at least 10 other nations to find out if and how the melting polar caps are affecting climatic patterns across the globe.

“We have proposed to undertake a major study to understand how climate change in the polar regions are affecting our weather and rainfall patterns,” said Shailesh Nayak, secretary, Union ministry of earth sciences. He said the Arctic and Antarctic regions are known to be very sensitive to global climate change. The melting polar ice caps could alter the Global Conveyor Belt — the regular pattern of flow of ocean and sea water. The warm and cold ocean currents have a significant effect on weather and climate patterns of all countries, including India, that have long coastlines.


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