In Delhi, 11 unpredictable months
On Tuesday, Delhi’s minimum temperature was at 17.9 degrees Celsius (°C), the lowest minimum temperature ever recorded in June in the city. As this newspaper reported last week, even before the June record, the Capital had broken weather-related records every month for the last ten months. In August, it recorded 236.5mm rainfall, the highest for the month since 2013. September was the warmest month in almost two decades. In October, Delhi broke a 58-year-old record, clocking a mean minimum temperature of 17.2 degrees Celsius. November’s mean minimum temperature dropped to 10.2 degrees Celsius, a level last seen in 1949. December witnessed eight cold wave days, the highest since 1965. January recorded the highest number of cold wave days since 2008 (seven), and also broke the record for the highest rainfall for the month in 21 years (56.6mm). February was the second warmest in 120 years, with the mean maximum temperature touching 27.9 degrees Celsius. March recorded the hottest day in 76 years, with the mercury levels touching 40.1 degrees Celsius. The lowest minimum temperature in April in at least a decade was recorded on April 4, at 11.7 degrees Celsius. In May, Delhi broke the record for the highest single-day rainfall for the month ever, with 119.3mm of precipitation on May 19-20.
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Met officials and scientists have said that these extreme weather recordings are the immediate result of temporary atmospheric events, including the western disturbance, known to cause extreme weather events such as floods, flash floods, landslides, dust storms, hail storms and cold waves. The moot question, however, is whether these new records can be linked to the climate crisis. There are two views on it. The first school of thought among scientists views these changes as an “anomaly” and not representative of a “pattern change”; the second view sees the astonishing changes, month after month, as visible signs of the climate crisis. However, even those who subscribe to the first view agree that freak weather events could have been “supported” by global warming because it increased the moisture-holding capacity of wind, leading to intense rainfall.
Both groups, however, agree on one point: There is no doubt that wind flow, average temperature, humidity pattern, ocean temperature, among other atmospheric metrics, have changed drastically. It is important to scientifically investigate the link between the freak weather events of the last 11 months and the climate crisis to prepare better.
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