Climate change is impacting the monsoon pattern and causing long, dry spells and drought in half of India’s 626 districts.
Although there is no evidence to show that the drought resulted from climate change, an analysis of monsoon data of the last 150 years showed that climate change had caused sudden heavy showers, followed by dry, hot spells.
BN Goswami, director of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), said at a media workshop on climate change, organised by the Centre for Science and Environment, “The days of long-duration rains in Central India are almost gone.”
He said about 70 districts of Central India — from southern Uttar Pradesh to Central Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan — had witnessed long dry spells during the last seven years.
An IITM study found that even though the average rainfall remained the same, heavy doses of shower increased causing floods, while long-duration rainfall that replenishes the underground water decreased.
“It is a warning for policy-makers and a challenge for the people to adapt to new rainfall trends,” Goswami said, adding that farmers in Central India should switch from crops
that were dependant on rainfall to those that require less water.
Another impact of climate change is the growing difficulties in predicting monsoons, which had gone grossly wrong this year. The meteorological department had to change its monsoon projections twice this year.
“Climate change is causing atmospheric changes at a much faster rate than we can measure,” Goswami told the Hindustan Times. The correct projection can be made only for 1.5 days against three days about a decade ago. “We need better trained staff and computers to meet this challenge”.
Saatheesh S. Shenoi, director of the Chennai-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Science, which has studied tidal data of 150 years, said the rising sea level of 1.07 mm could cause havoc in the coastal areas.
He warned that six islands “in the Sunderbans in West Bengal may completely perish due to the rising sea levels.”