Need for predictive gauge of climate change impact stressed

The Hindu , Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Correspondent : M. Rajeev
HYDERABAD: As the official machinery grapples to ascertain the extent of damage caused by the recent cloudburst and flash floods in Leh district that claimed close to 200 lives, experts are stressing the need for modelling the impact of climate change at the local level to predict such calamities in advance.

“Rainfall received due to cloudburst in Leh on a single day is higher than the highest in Cherrapunji. We have never seen this kind of rainfall earlier,” P.G. Dhar Chakrabarti, Director of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Disaster Management Centre, told The Hindu. Mr. Chakrabarti was here in connection with a training programme on hydro-meteorological disasters organised by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services.

Mr. Chakrabarti dismissed reports that excessive cloud seeding operations across the border in China resulted in this phenomenon.

The recent cloudburst in Leh, an area which was not known for even decent seasonal rainfall, was a definitive sign of the impact climate change was having on the country. This could be gauged from the fact that Leh was affected by the biggest cloudburst the region had ever seen despite total rainfall in the area not being abnormal and other parameters too remaining by and large the same.

“Absence of a localised climate change model is making it difficult to assess the situation on a micro scale in such incidents,” he said.

According to him, climate change was contributing significantly to melting of glaciers in the Himalayan region, albeit not on the scale anticipated by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“Glacial lake outbursts in the Himalayan region surely point to melting of glaciers, but a lot of research should go into ascertaining the degree of melting,” he said.

Mr. Chakrabarti said though the IPCC could not come to a conclusion on the impact of global warming in its three initial reports, the fourth report pointed to a 0.8-1 degree increase in the average mean surface temperature of oceans in the last hundred years and this was likely to be between 2 and 4.8 degrees in the coming century.

“There is an increase for sure and there is no truth to reports that global warming is cyclical,” he said.


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