After Leh disaster, study on 'freaky weather' in cold zones

"We have asked the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) at Manali to conduct a study on pattern of changes taking place in the region in the last six decades," W Selvamurthy, Chief Controller (R&D) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told PTI.

The need for conducting such a research was felt after it was observed that "freaky weather" was becoming a regular feature in the higher altitudes, he said. Such events often find the authorities unprepared like in the case of the recent cloudburst, which led to flash floods and mudslides, claiming about 180 lives in Leh.

"The one-year-long study would help to know the exact causes which in turn will help in taking preventive steps so that authorities are prepared for any eventuality," the senior scientist said.

Selvamurthy said one can clearly observe that there has been changes in the weather in cold zones like warm temperature extending up to the month of August rather than June and July as was prevalent earlier.

However, he was cautious in declaring the changes as an effect of global warming.
"We need to have a huge amount of data with us to associate it with climate change. That is why the study is being undertaken. SASE has a state-of-the-art laboratory collecting data from various weather stations located at various places at the high-altitude zones," he added.

In fact, a recent study of five years' weather data in terms of rainfall and monthly temperature by scientists at Leh-based Defence Institute For High Altitude Research (DIHAR) suggested prolonged winters could have been behind the cloudburst on August 5 in Leh which is usually considered unnatural because it is a rain-scarcity area.
The study also pointed to increased temperature and hot summers in the plains leading to rise in evaporation and subsequent cloud formation in the hills. "This in turn, lead to increased duration of snowfall in Ladakh when compared to previous years," the study said.

The laboratory facility of SASE offers specialised snow and ice sample storage facility, environmentally-controlled walk-in cold chambers, equipment, instrumentation, and scientific expertise specifically designed for detailed study of snow, ice, and related manifestations.

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