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Extreme weather events and climate change


People around the world have been doubly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and extreme weather events which experts say have been fuelled by climate change.


GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Climate Change and its Impact, Conservation of Environment, Effects of Environmental Pollution)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. CEEW Study on Extreme Weather Events
  2. Extreme Weather events that coincided with the Pandemic
  3. Climate Change as a reason for increased Extreme Weather events
  4. Other Causes of Extreme Weather Events

CEEW Study on Extreme Weather Events

  • A Study by Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) found that in the last 50 years, the frequency of flood events increased almost eight times.
  • Over 75 per cent districts in India, home to more than 63.8 crore people, are hotspots of extreme climate events such as cyclones, floods, droughts, heat and cold waves.
  • Events associated with floods such as landslides, heavy rainfall, hailstorms, thunderstorms, and cloudbursts increased by over 20 times.
  • The frequency, intensity, and unpredictability of these extreme events have risen in recent decades – while India witnessed 250 extreme climate events in 35 years between 1970 and 2005, it recorded 310 such weather events in only 15 years since then.
  • The frequency of floods surged significantly in the last two decades, it was found. – In 2019 alone, India witnessed 16 extreme flood events, which affected 151 districts. The study found that over 9.7 crore people are currently exposed to extreme floods in India.
  • Six of India’s eight most flood-prone districts in the last decade—Barpeta, Darrang, Dhemaji, Goalpara, Golaghat, Sivasagar—are in Assam.
  • India is already the fifth most vulnerable country globally in terms of extreme climate events, and it is all set to become the world’s flood capital.
  • The CEEW analysis indicates that while the number of rainy days during monsoon have decreased, single-day extreme rainfall events are increasing, leading to flooding.
  • According to the study, the yearly average of drought-affected districts increased 13 times after 2005.
  • The study also found a shift in the pattern of extreme climate events, such as flood-prone areas becoming drought-prone and vice-versa, in over 40 per cent of Indian districts.

Extreme Weather events that coincided with the Pandemic

  • Along with the pandemic, people across the world struggled to survive as they faced extreme weather in the form of storms, cyclones, heavy rainfall and record heat.
  • Response and recovery to people hit by cyclones, storms and similar extreme weather was constrained throughout the pandemic in 2020.
  • India experienced one of its wettest monsoons since 1994, with a seasonal surplus of 9% that led to severe floods and landslides.
  • Cyclone Amphan, which hit Kolkata in May 2020, has been named as the costliest tropical cyclone for the North Indian Ocean region that brought about an estimated loss of USD 14 billion.

Climate Change as a reason for increased Extreme Weather events

  • The world temperature has increased quite high from the past few decades and even keeps on changing year after year.
  • One of the big reasons for the increase in Earth’s temperature is the level of CO2.
  • As the CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere, the temperature of the earth is also increasing simultaneously.
  • As the world temperature is increasing due to global warming simultaneously the effects of it are also increasing.
  • Global warming is contributing to intensifying heatwaves.
  • Global warming also boosts the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere which may lead to causes of severe weather like heavy rainfall, heavy snowstorm, etc.

Other Causes of Extreme Weather Events

  1. Extreme Temperature: The temperature of the Earth is rising every year and increasing temperature and extreme sunshine on top of it creates a low-pressure system – due to this the hurricanes and other tropical storms get their way to start.
  2. High Atmospheric Winds: The jet streams found where the cold air from Earth’s poles meets with warm tropical air help to continue and control the weather system from west to east in the northern hemisphere and from east to west in the southern hemisphere. Sometimes these winds bring unpleasant weather with them which may lead to the formation of a tornado.
  3. Meeting of Pressure systems: When too cold high-pressure systems meet with too warm low-pressure systems, the chances of extremely high waves on sea surface increases.
  4. Improper Weather Systems: The weather systems (such as air masses, fronts, etc.) keep on moving in a proper way which helps to maintain the weather conditions in a smoother way. When the weather conditions come across any disturbance in between, it creates disasters.

-Source: Indian Express

December 2023