India continues to grapple with a constant onslaught of extreme weather events that have dire consequences on human lives and agricultural productivity. According to data from India’s database of climate disasters, 314 of the 365 days in 2022 were severely felt.
The weather phenomena claimed 3,026 lives and caused extensive damage to 1.96 million hectares of farmland.
The Indian Meteorological Department has revealed a trend in the frequency of extreme weather events from 2022 to 2023.
Experts emphasize the random nature of these events, noting that hail has already overtaken heat waves as the most common event in 2023. 32 States and Union Territories were affected by hail on 58 days out of 84 days.
Extreme weather events reported during this period.
“There is increasing evidence that global warming due to climate change is exacerbating these events,” explains Avantika Goswami, Program Manager at Climate Change.
program at the Center for Science and the Environment, “For example, last year’s early heatwave is 30 times more likely due to climate change.”
India’s central region has been struggling with an alarming frequency of such incidents more than any other region in the country. Out of 365 days in a year, the region experienced these severe events on 218 days. Madhya Pradesh saw the most extreme weather events and endured them for 144 days. Tragically, these catastrophic events resulted in 938 deaths and significant damage to 136,781 hectares of agricultural land.
The winter months of January and February 2022 also experienced extreme weather events spread across 21 states and union territories. Uttar Pradesh experienced the highest frequency with incidents reported in 25 days, followed by Madhya Pradesh (24 days) and Punjab (15 days). Notably, despite being the third wettest January since 1951, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala recorded deficient rainfall, highlighting the unpredictability of weather patterns.
The monsoon season, which runs from June to September, was the most challenging, with 122 days of extreme weather events across 34 states and Union Territories. Assam faced extreme events for 95 days followed by Madhya Pradesh (85 days) and Maharashtra (80 days). Although the overall monsoon is classified as normal, the rainfall
Fluctuations between deficit and surplus throughout the season. By the end of the season, 188 districts had received deficit rainfall comprising 27% of the country’s total rainfall, with seven districts experiencing major deficit rainfall.
Sengupta expresses concern about the sudden surge in monsoon rainfall and emphasizes the changing nature of monsoons in India. It has become extremely erratic and no longer follows a uniform pattern, leading to crop destruction and affecting human populations.
He draws attention to the changing nature of the monsoon, emphasizing that extreme weather events that were once considered rare or once-in-a-lifetime are now becoming more frequent. This indicates a marked change in climate patterns, presenting a major challenge for communities and ecosystems to adapt and cope with the increased frequency of these extremes.
There is concern over the significant reduction of 36% in the budget allocated to states and Union Territories to deal with natural calamities in the financial year 2022-23 as compared to the previous year. This shortfall in funding raises important questions about the preparedness and availability of resources to effectively respond to and manage the increasing impacts of these extreme weather events.
These alarming statistics published by DownTo Earth for their report; India’s environment in 2023 estimates paints a clear picture of the major challenges India faces due to extreme weather events. The loss of thousands of human lives, widespread devastation to vast farmlands, and unpredictable rainfall patterns underscore the need for urgent action to address this.
Build resilience to mitigate the impacts of climate change and future disasters.
Experts emphasize the importance of devising sector-specific preparedness and action plans, incorporating the latest scientific findings, establishing reliable methods for assessing losses and damages resulting from these events. She highlights the urgent need to strengthen us
Enabling cities to withstand various climate impacts including extreme rainfall, flood events and extreme heat.
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