India faced extreme weather events nearly daily in 1st 9 months of this year
Centre for Science and Environment researchers said the losses and damages could be higher as data for each event was not collated nor were the losses of public property or crops calculated
India faced extreme weather events nearly daily in the first nine months this year claiming an estimated 2,923 human lives, affecting 1.84 million hectares (ha) of crop area, destroying over 80,563 houses, and killing nearly 92,519 livestock, a Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) analysis has found. CSE researchers said the losses and damages could be higher as data for each event was not collated nor were the losses of public property or crops calculated.
The analysis is based on the compilation of heat waves, cyclones, lightning, heavy rain, floods, and landslide data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD)’s daily bulletins and the home ministry’s situation report on flood/heavy rainfall. “While a realistic estimate can be made about the number of days the country recorded extreme weather events from IMD releases, major gaps remain when it comes to loss and damage assessment. [Home ministry’s] DMD [Disaster Management Division] provides data as received by the states and this is mainly for the monsoon season. It does not include all extreme events as defined by IMD,” the analysis said.
India recorded extreme weather events on 235 of the 273 days (86%) from January 1 to September 30 in different parts of the country. Record-breaking temperatures were reported for months. Regions across the country were also deluged because of very heavy and extremely heavy rainfall.
Extreme weather events were reported on 241 days during the same period last year. But this time, all 36 states and Union Territories were affected, compared to 34 last year
“This is the watermark of climate change. It is not about the single event but about the increased frequency of the events—an extreme event we saw once every 100 years has now begun to occur every five years or less. Worse, it is now all coming together—each month is breaking a new record. This, in turn, is breaking the backs of the poorest, who are worst impacted and are fast losing their capacities to cope with these recurring and frequent events,” the analysis said.
Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of days with extreme weather events—every second day. Bihar suffered the highest number of human losses at 642, followed by Himachal Pradesh (365) and Uttar Pradesh (341).
Himachal Pradesh reported the highest number of damaged houses (15,407) and Punjab had the largest number of animal deaths (63,649).
Madhya Pradesh experienced extreme weather events on 138 days since the beginning of 2023 even as official records indicate no crop area damage. Media reports suggest that at least 45,000 ha of crop area were affected, CSE said.
February exceeded previous records to become the warmest in 122 years. Northwest India was particularly hit with an average temperature of around 2.78°C above normal (1981-2010). March was modestly warmer but the average minimum temperature in northwest India was 1.34°C above the long-term norm. June was the sixth warmest on record with the south Peninsula reporting its warmest June on record.
In July, the country recorded the second-highest minimum temperature in 122 years. August and September were again the warmest ever. India recorded its sixth driest February and its driest ever August in 122 years.
The analysis called for moving beyond the management of the disaster to reducing risks and improving resilience. “This is why we need more than words to improve the systems for flood management—deliberately building drainage and water recharge systems on the one hand and investing in green spaces and forests so that these sponges of water can be revitalised for the coming storms. This also speaks of the need to demand reparations for the damage from the countries that have contributed to the emissions in the atmosphere and are responsible for this damage.”
The analysis said the models that explain the impacts of climate change are clear that extreme weather events will increase in frequency and intensity.
HT on November 21 reported that global temperatures may have temporarily breached the 2°C threshold on November 17 and November 18, which scientists believe could cause irreversible damage if it persists for longer periods.
The average global daily temperature was around 2°C warmer than the 1850-1900 average for the first time in history on the two days, according to estimates. The Paris Agreement of 2015 set the goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C and possibly not more than 1.5°C.
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