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Centre lists districts vulnerable to climate crisis in India’s first weather hazard atlas

Updated on Jan 18, 2022 04:46 AM IST

The atlas, the first of its kind, will aid in disaster preparedness as extreme weather events rise in the wake of the climate crisis, scientists said.

The Sunderbans in West Bengal is among areas most vulnerable to the highest storm surge, according to the Climate Hazards and Vulnerability Atlas of India released by the ministry of earth sciences.
ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi

The Sunderbans in West Bengal, neighbouring districts of Odisha, and Ramanathapuram, Pudukkottai and Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu are the most vulnerable to high storm surges of as much as 8.5 to 13.7 metres that are induced by cyclones, according to the Climate Hazards and Vulnerability Atlas of India released by the ministry of earth sciences.

The atlas, the first of its kind, will aid in disaster preparedness as extreme weather events rise in the wake of the climate crisis, scientists said. The maximum heights of storm surges in the atlas provides data for all coastal districts in India.

Also read | Spectre of child marriage, trafficking looms large in Sunderbans

Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh, and Kachchh and Bhavnagar in Gujarat, besides all coastal regions of the west coast are also vulnerable to storm surges, but to a lesser degree of 4 to 6 metres, said the atlas released last week.

The maximum probable rainfall associated with severe cyclones in the 50-60 cm range is likely over Prakasam, East Godavari, Krishna, West Godavari on the east coast, and Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, south Goa and Uttara Kannada on the west coast.

Several districts of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Telangana and Tamil Nadu are vulnerable to extreme rainfall of 35 to 50 cm that cyclones bring with them.

Severe cyclones are returning every two to four years for almost all of east coast, starting from Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu to South 24 Parganas in West Bengal. Kannur, Kozhikode, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts in Kerala, north and south Goa, and Kachchh, Devbhoomi, Junagadh and Porbandar in Gujarat see recurring severe cyclones every four to 10 years.

“Over the past decade or so, we have started seeing changes in the hazard-prone areas. For example, central India has started recording heavy to extremely heavy rainfall events associated with movement of low pressure areas. This was not the case earlier,” said DS Pai, head of India Meteorological Department’s climate research and services department in Pune.

“There is no change in the number of cyclones affecting the west coast, but the severity of cyclones developing over the Arabian Sea has increased,” Pai said. “These have been captured in our maps.”

The atlas is expected to mitigate the effects of 13 most hazardous meteorological events – cold wave, heat wave, thunderstorms, flood, drought, fog, wind hazard, dust storm, snowfall, hail storm, lightning, extreme rainfall and cyclone – that can cause extensive damage. There are 640 climate vulnerability maps in the atlas.

For a visual display of the climate vulnerability maps, the weather bureau has used geographic information system tools at the office of climate research and services office in Pune.

“The atlas will have two uses. First, it will act as a reference for impact-based warnings 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,” said M Mohapatra, director general of the Met department. “Second, it can be used to plan climate-resilient infrastructure. For example, if a construction is coming up in a coastal area, the atlas can give crucial information on what kind of disasters are probable in that area.”

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