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Friday, Dec 06, 2019

India facing sea level rise amid severe heat: Centre

India is confronting a range of climate change-influenced effects, ranging from severe heat waves to an increase in the frequency and magnitude of extreme rainfall and rising sea levels, the ministry of earth sciences has warned.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2019 05:56 IST
Jayashree Nandi
Jayashree Nandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
People cover their faces to protect themselves from the scorching heat in Noida.
People cover their faces to protect themselves from the scorching heat in Noida.(Sunil Ghosh / Hindustan Times)
         

India is confronting a range of climate change-influenced effects, ranging from severe heat waves to an increase in the frequency and magnitude of extreme rainfall and rising sea levels, the ministry of earth sciences has warned.

The annual rate of sea level rise at some locations, according to studies available with the ministry, is comparable with the global average and actually higher in some cases.

The Indian region has recorded a warming trend of 0.6 degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels, as per observational data available with the ministry of earth sciences, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, minister of state for health, said in reply to a question in the Lok Sabha. Data presented by him in the House also indicated that several coastal areas in India were recording a rise in sea levels.

Diamond Harbour in West Bengal, for example, recorded a sea level rise rate of 5.16 mm per year between 1948 and 2005; Kandla in Gujarat recorded a sea level rise rate of 2.89 mm/year compared to a global average of 1.8 mm/year over the last century, according to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). To be sure, this is comparable to the current level of increase.

Current data with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicates an average rate of sea level rise of 3.1 mm/year.

“Globally, climate change impacts are already visible. We have very few studies on how climate change is impacting... coastal erosion, forest biodiversity or changes in crop yields. India’s impacts will be higher than global averages. We also have very limited, very high-quality modelling studies on how climate change will impact sectors. The US, the UK and Germany have these studies,” said NH Ravindranath, climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru

Choubey was responding to a question on whether India had become vulnerable to extreme climate events like tsunamis, floods or droughts because of climate change. “Indian coast has a threat from Tsunami that can get generated due to large undersea earthquakes. The earthquakes and Tsunamis are not due to climatic variations. However the coastal inundation by tsunamis can exacerbate the impact on coastal zones due to sea level rise,” Choubey’s reply said.

Choubey, in his answer, also said regions that are most prone to climate change impacts are central and north India and the western Himalayas, manifested in extreme rainfall, and in north and northwest India, in the form of moderate droughts.

“Each year many people die in India due to heat waves during the pre-monsoon season. The major factors that led to warming during the 20th century were an increase in greenhouse gases (GHG) and changes in land use and land cover,” the minister said.