Heavy Rainfall in North India Amidst the Climate Change Crisis

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Rainfall in north india
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Rain is the harbinger of life and happiness, but it also possesses devastating power. Heavy rains rainfall in North India have led to regions being submerged in water. Now, this rain seems more disastrous than a blessing, inflicting significant damage to lives and property. The death toll has been constantly rising in states such as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Mumbai, and more. Unprecedented extreme rainfall has already filled deficits in just a few weeks, posing a serious challenge to affected regions. This extreme rainfall has triggered flash floods, landslides, waterlogging, electricity blockages, disruptions to movement and communication, and more.

Is only the monsoon responsible for unprecedented extreme rainfall in north india?

India has a tropical monsoon-type climate. According to the IMD, the monsoon is expected to arrive in India in June, bringing normal rainfall. However, this extreme rainfall is not solely a result of the monsoon. Experts believe that the monsoon, along with the Western disturbance, is proving disastrous. The Western disturbance, originating from the northwest of India, is a low-pressure system that accumulates moisture from the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, and Caspian Sea. It brings sudden heavy rain to some parts of northern India. It is known for creating havoc in India, as seen in the Uttarakhand disaster of 2013, which resulted from an anomalous Western disturbance. Furthermore, changes in climate, increasing warmth, uncontrolled pollution, and global warming heat up the atmosphere, which, in turn, increases the moisture retention capacity of the air. This leads to more intense and frequent precipitation, exacerbating the ongoing havoc.

Impacts of extreme rainfall in north india:

The challenges posed by heavy rainfall have wide-ranging consequences that impact both humans and ecosystems. Some of the devastating ramifications include the loss of precious lives, flash floods, damage to infrastructure (including houses and roads), negative impacts on tourism, destruction of crops and livestock, waterlogging, obstruction of electricity supply, disrupted transport and communication, and disruptions to trade and businesses. In the hilly terrains of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, landslides become more frequent, claiming lives. Rising river water levels increase the risk of floods in nearby regions, destructively impacting agriculture and livestock. These circumstances raise concerns about the rise in extreme weather events, to which India is more prone due to being surrounded by water on three sides.

How climate change impacts rainfall dynamics in India:

Climate change has reduced monsoon rainfall in India but has certainly increased the frequency of extreme and unprecedented heavy rainfall events. This has led to unpredictable surges and changes in the regional pattern of precipitation. Some parts of the country receive more rainfall than required, leading to flooding, while other areas face dry spells, heatwaves, and drought conditions that have devastating impacts on agriculture. According to the World Bank Group, if the world fails to limit temperature rise below 2°C, India’s summer monsoon will become highly unpredictable. If the Temperature soars to 4°C, the future holds a startling revelation, a rare occurrence that presently takes place once every 100 years, will transform into a recurring event happening every 10 years by the close of the century. Dry years are expected to be drier, wet years wetter, and frequent storms and cyclones will be triggered.

Mitigating measures and long-term solutions:

The government, disaster management authorities, civic bodies, and communities have been proactively engaged in rescuing lives and effectively tackling the ongoing crisis. However, prevention is much better than cure. Improvements in hydro-meteorological warning systems for more precise weather forecasting and the installation of flood warning systems can help individuals evacuate before extreme weather events occur. Additionally, there is an immediate need for proper drainage systems to prevent flash floods and waterlogging in streets, urban planning with building codes to mitigate risks, an adequate number of well-trained disaster management volunteers, and a proper strategy for future crises. Practicing sustainable development, curbing pollution, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to lower atmospheric heat, and raising awareness among people about disaster management are also crucial. The government, along with all affected stakeholders, needs to actively participate and take proactive preventive measures to effectively tackle future extreme events.

Read More: National

Article Credit: Ishika Singh

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