2021 was fifth warmest year in India, impact of global warming: IMD

IMD scientists said a very warm winter and post-monsoon season in 2021 led to an increase in mean temperature last year
According to the IMD report, the annual mean air temperature was 0.44°C above normal in 2021 . (HT PHOTO)
According to the IMD report, the annual mean air temperature was 0.44°C above normal in 2021 . (HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jan 15, 2022 09:26 AM IST
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ByJayashree Nandi

The year 2021 was the fifth warmest reported in India over the past 121 years, according to the annual climate statement 2021, released by India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Friday. The four warmest years are 2016, 2009, 2017 and 2010, the report said.

According to the report, the annual mean air temperature was 0.44°C above normal in 2021 while in 2016 it was 0.71°C above normal; 0.55°C in 2009; 0.54°C in 2017, and 0.53°C in 2010.

“This is certainly an impact of global warming. The fact that the most recent years after 2000 are recorded to be the warmest years is not just true for India, but globally also. That is why we are preparing better forecast strategies in view of global warming,” said M Mohapatra, director general of IMD.

The global mean temperature in 2021 (January to September) was around 1.08°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average and the year is likely to be between the fifth and seventh warmest year on record, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. 2021 is cooler than recent years owing to La Niña conditions.

IMD scientists said a very warm winter and post-monsoon season in 2021 led to an increase in mean temperature last year. In winter (Jan and Feb) last year, the seasonal mean temperature was 0.78°C above normal and during the post monsoon season (October to December) mean temperature was 0.42°C above normal.

During the 1901 to 2021 period, there was a 0.63°C rise in mean temperature for 100 years.

Annual rainfall over the country last year was 105% of its long period average (LPA); rainfall during southwest monsoon season (June to September) was normal at 99% of LPA; but the northeast monsoon rainfall was 171% of LPA—record highest since 1901, the report stated.

Heavy rainfall and flood-related incidents claimed over 750 lives last year while thunderstorms and lightning claimed more than 780 lives in different parts of the country, the report stated. Of the 750 deaths due to heavy rainfall events, 215 deaths were reported in Maharashtra, 143 in Uttarakhand, 55 in Himachal Pradesh, 53 in Kerala and 46 in Andhra Pradesh.

Among 780 deaths due to thunderstorms, 213 were in Odisha, 156 in Madhya Pradesh, 89 in Bihar, 76 in Maharashtra, 58 in West Bengal, 54 in Jharkhand, 49 in Uttar Pradesh and 48 in Rajasthan.

According to the report, Maharashtra was the most adversely affected state during 2021 -- the state reported more than 340 deaths, mainly due to extremely heavy rainfall, floods, landslide, lightning, cyclonic storms and cold-wave events.

There were 5 cyclonic storms in 2021—Tauktae over Arabian Sea (May 14 to 19); Yaas over Bay of Bengal (May 23 to 28); Shaheen over Arabian Sea (September 29 to October 4); Gulab over Bay of Bengal (September 24 to 28) and Jawad over Bay of Bengal (December 2 to 6).

The most devastating was Tauktae which crossed Saurashtra coast on May 17 claimed 144 lives due to its impact on the west coast.

Many states reported extremely wet to severely wet conditions due to excess rainfall last year.

The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) is an index used for monitoring drought conditions based on precipitation. Negative values indicate dry conditions while positive values indicate wet conditions.

SPI values of the past twelve months indicate extremely wet-severely wet conditions over parts of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Gangetic West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, East Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Chandigarh & Delhi, Punjab, East Rajasthan, West Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat Region, Konkan & Goa, Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, North Interior Karnataka, south Karnataka and Kerala. Extremely dry-severely dry conditions were observed over parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram & Tripura, Sub Himalayan West Bengal & Sikkim, East Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

Climate Vulnerability Atlas

On the occasion of IMD’s 147th foundation day, IMD launched four doppler weather radars — in Leh (highest altitude in India); Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi. The radar for Ayanagar in Delhi will cover an 100 km area and will provide information for the entire National Capital Region. It will provide improved rainfall monitoring; information for nowcasting and disaster mitigation, officials said.

IMD also launched a Climate Hazards and Vulnerability Index Atlas of India on the occasion. The Atlas has mapped district wise climate hazards and climate vulnerability. The climate hazards are mapped for wind hazard, extreme rainfall, lightning, dust storm, hail storm, fog, drought, cyclone and thunderstorm.

The data for heavy, very heavy and extremely heavy rain (over 64.5 mm/ day) during 2011 to 2020 was concentrated along the west coast districts the atlas showed including Satara, Ratnagiri, Uttara Kannada, Shimoga, Kozhikode etc. Lightning incidents (201 to 508 lightning days) were largely concentrated in Odisha, West Bengal and Maharashtra between 1969 to 2019. Highest number of heat wave days ( 400 to 1113) were concentrated in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan.

“The atlas will have two uses. One, it will be a reference for impact-based warning that we issue for various regions. People can also see the atlas to understand what is the impact of certain extreme weather events in their region. Secondly, it can be used to plan climate-resilient infrastructure. For example, if construction is coming up in a coastal area, the atlas can give crucial information on what kind of disasters are probable,” added Mohapatra.

M Ravichandran Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences said IMD plans to install at least 90 weather radars to be able to effectively forecast severe weather events. “Our aim is to populate the radars in the country so that no area are without the eye of radar. There are about 33 radars in IMD network and our objective is to at least have 90 radars to map the entire country. Though we are successful in providing accurate forecasts at various timescales, people always talk about where we have failed. It’s natural. We need to accept the criticism and try to rise to the occasion. We have improved our cyclone forecast significantly both intensity and track and last week’s winter rain was forecasted accurately but no one noticed it. At the same time, we failed some localised forecasts in Chennai, especially heavy rain but everyone noticed it. Our model resolution is about 12 km. Its difficult to forecast rainfall and weather with that resolution. We need to improve the model resolution with better input,” he said adding that “in the global warming scenario heavy and extremely heavy rainfall is going to increase and we need to augment resources to predict accurately. Awareness among people is very important, especially the complexity involved in forecasting weather.”

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Friday, January 28, 2022