Aug 13, 2008

India - To be hotter by 4 degrees in 40 years

NEW DELHI: The effect of climate change on India could be far worse than previously estimated. Latest projections indicate that after 2050, temperatures would rise by 3-4 degrees over current levels and rainfall would become both heavier and less regular, posing a grave threat to agriculture.

These are part of the research conducted by scientists at Pune's Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, one of the key government institutions studying climate change in India. The findings are currently under review by a well-recognized scientific journal.

This provides another, more serious wake-up call for India's planners to look at adapting to the impending climatic changes. But as importantly, it demands that the developed countries reduce their emissions substantially before their accumulated emissions turn these projections into a reality for India and other developing countries.

If even a part of the projections turn into reality, the IITM modelling has dire implications for almost all aspects of life in the country — agriculture, power, water resources and biodiversity.

The team at IITM, led by Dr Krishna Kumar, used what is known as "A1B scenario" to pick a curve against which greenhouse emissions are calculated. The A1B scenario refers to a UN-accepted set of changes in the world economy that drive greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It presumes a global economy growing by 3% annually with high rates of investment and innovation, use of varied sources of energy and an economic convergence between the developed and developing countries.

With the emissions growth curve drawn from the A1B scenario, Kumar and his team used data relevant to India in complex climate models to generate future projections for dozens of climate parameters that allowed them to map out how temperatures and monsoon would change if emissions rose.

'Cities to bear brunt of rising temp'

The results of their work will now be used by others to calibrate how vulnerable the country could be on different fronts if these projections come true. The study is an eye-opener. It says the rise of temperatures would be far more over northern India than the peninsular region.

The temperatures would begin rising in northern and western regions initially and then the pattern would shift eastward. The increase would occur in both night and day time temperatures.

Global modelling results have been suggesting that average annual precipitation in the country may see about a 8-10% increase. The pattern of increase in rainfall too is predicted to move from north and north-west India towards the east.

The consequences are easy to see — cities like Delhi that are not able to handle the occasional heavy shower even today, as was the case this year, could get flooded rapidly. The scene may not be much better for cities like Mumbai.

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