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2020 was eighth warmest year on record for India: IMD

By Jayashree Nandi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 04, 2021 11:48 PM IST

New Delhi: Last year was the eighth warmest since India started keeping records in 1901, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD)’s Statement on Climate of India in 2020.

During the year, the annual average temperature in the country was 0.29 degree Celsius (°C) above normal ( 29-year average from 1981-2010), said the report which looks at temperature and rainfall trends annually.

Such temperature trends were reported despite the cooling effect of La Nina, a global weather pattern that prevailed in 2020 and is linked to substantially below normal temperatures in winter.

In 2016, India recorded the warmest year when the mean land surface temperature was 0.71°C above normal.

WHICH YEAR? The temperature during the pre-monsoon season was below normal by 0.03°C. But both monsoon and post-monsoon seasons were 0.43°C and 0.53°C above normal, respectively, and that contributed to warming. The mean temperature during winter was 0.14°C above normal.

India’s warming was, however, significantly lower than the global average. The global mean temperature rise during 2020 (January to October, as per the World Meteorological Organisation’s State of the Global Climate) was 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels.

The annual rainfall over the country was 109% of the Long Period Average (LPA) calculated for the period of 1961-2010.

The IMD statement said 12 out of the 15 warmest years were reported between 2006 and 2020, and that the past decade (2011-2020) was the warmest decade on record. Last year, the mean monthly temperatures were warmer than the normal during all months except March and June.

Average annual mean temperature during 1901-2020 showed an increasing trend of 0.62°C in that century, with an increasing trend in maximum temperature (0.99°C in 100 years) and a relatively lower increasing trend (0.24°C in100 years) in minimum temperature.

“2020 was one of the warmest years despite having a La Niña with cool waters in the east Pacific. La Niñas typically has a cooling effect on global temperatures, but this is now offset by global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, La Niña years now are warmer than years with El Niño events of the past. As for India, data shows that the increasing trend in temperatures is the largest during the post-monsoon season and this is reflected in the 2020 post-monsoon temperatures over India, despite a full-fledged La Nina,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.

El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a periodic fluctuation in sea surface temperature and the air pressure of the overlying atmosphere across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. It has a major influence on weather and climate patterns such as heavy rains, floods and drought. El Niño has a warming influence on global temperatures, whilst La Niña has the opposite effect.

The IMD statement also said India experienced some extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall, floods, landslide, thunderstorm, lightning, and cold waves that killed hundreds of people IN 2020.

Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were the most affected states during the year with over 350 deaths from each state due to thunderstorm, lightning and cold wave.

Heavy rainfall and floods claimed over 600 lives from different parts of the country during pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon seasons. Thunderstorms and lightning also claimed over 815 lives in different parts of the country.

Last year five cyclones formed over the North Indian Ocean. Super cyclonic storm Amphan formed in the pre-monsoon season and crossed the West Bengal coast over Sunderbans on May 20. It claimed 90 lives and about 4,000 livestock mainly in West Bengal.

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