Climate change reason behind heavy rainfall across northwest India, say experts

The role of climate change in the increasing extreme weather events in India has been strengthening with each passing year, experts say.
Last Updated : 11 July 2023, 02:08 IST

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The extremely heavy rainfall wreaking havoc across northwest India is because of increasing levels of global warming leading to steep increase in extreme weather events, according to meteorologists and climate scientists.

“The ongoing spell of extremely heavy rains is due to the alignment of three weather systems - western disturbance over western Himalayas, cyclonic circulation over northwestern plains, and axis of monsoon trough running across Indo-Gangetic plains. This alignment is not happening for the first time and is the usual pattern during the monsoon,” said Mahesh Palawat, Vice-President - Meteorology and Climate Change, Skymet Weather.

“However, global warming-led changes in monsoon patterns have made a difference. There has been a constant rise in both land and sea temperatures, which has increased the capacity of the air to hold moisture for a longer time. Thus, the role of climate change in the increasing extreme weather events in India has been strengthening with each passing year,” he added.

“There have been extreme weather events earlier as well, but 2023 has been a unique year. Global warming is making a significant contribution but there are some other factors as well," said Raghu Murtugudde, Earth System Scientist and Visiting Professor at IIT-Bombay.

“Firstly, El Nino has taken shape, which is amplifying global temperatures. Secondly, wildfires have been in three times larger areas, releasing three times of carbon into the atmosphere, and increasing greenhouse gases. Thirdly, the North Atlantic Ocean is in a warmer phase. Fourth, the Arabian Sea has warmed unexceptionally since January, infusing more moisture over north-northwest India. And lastly, the upper-level circulation pattern is also unusual, which forces local surface circulations, bringing rains like the one we are witnessing across north and central India,” added Murtugudde.

“Several reports and researches have already established the impact of climate change on Indian monsoon patterns. However, it has also been tampering with atmospheric as well oceanic phenomena, which has further multiplied the implications of global warming,” according to a paper compiled by Climate Trends.

“We all know that both global surface and ocean temperatures have been increasing, resulting in more evaporation. This has aggravated the rain manifold. Indo-Gangetic plains have been receiving lots of moisture from the Bay of Bengal as well as from the Arabian Sea. This continuous supply of moisture feed to the weather systems leads to increased rains, which also results in extreme weather events,” said Krishnan Raghavan, Scientist-G, Director, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.

Published 11 July 2023, 02:08 IST

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