Floods will be common in future, say climatologists

Floods and inundation, especially in the peninsular India, will be a common feature in the coming future, as they are directly associated with the climate change. The weather can no longer be taken for granted, as uncertainty and rapid changes will be its hallmark and it is time urban planners rethought their strategy in handling the climate change.

This was the opinion of two climatologists and senior professors from the Department of Meteorology and Oceanography, Andhra University.

According to Prof. S.S.V.S. Ramakrishna, a senior professor from the department, the monsoon will become more erratic and will be replaced by category four or five cyclones, with the climate change. “In the last 15 years, we have seen some abnormal cyclonic systems such as Gonu, Nargis, Phailin, Hudhud, Mala, Yemyin, Helen and the Odisha Super Cyclone, hitting the coasts,” he said.

Rise in global temperature

The climate is changing with every passing year, especially after the global industrial revolution. “The release of carbon dioxide is influencing global warming. The average global temperature has already gone up by about one per cent and the ocean and land temperature have gone up by 2 to 4 per cent. This variation will bring more heavy rains,” said Prof. O.S.R.U. Bhanu Kumar, professor emeritus of the department.

According to him, the rain days per year will reduce and abnormal cloudburst will increase, due to increased precipitation.

“This will result in flooding that we are witnessing in Chennai and Nellore, and what we have seen at Uttarakhand and Kashmir, in the recent past,” he said.

Global warming directly impacts the El Nino phenomenon and the frequency of this phenomenon has increased with the industrialisation and rampant release of carbon dioxide.

“Whenever, the El Nino factor is there, the southwest monsoon comes a cropper and the north east monsoon hits the south peninsula in a big way,” he said.

Since 1957 to 1980s, there were only about three El Nino years, categorised under strong or very strong, but from 1980s the frequency has increased and we have seen over 10 El Nino years, said Prof. Bhanu Kumar.

Whenever, the surface temperature of Pacific Ocean rises by 2 to 5 degrees above normal, we have the El Nino factor working and it has direct impact on the northeast monsoon.

Cause of worry

Keeping the erratic mood of the weather in mind, Prof. Bhanu Kumar, pointed out that the flooding of Chennai is a lesson for urban planners. “It was predicted long before that northeast monsoon will bring heavy rain as the year was classified as El Nino year,” he said.

Water harvesting

“We need to think of a proper inflow and outflow system of rain water and scientific methods of water harvesting,” he said.

Prof. Ramakrishna further pointed out that not only the human habitat now demands construction weather-wise but even the crop sowing pattern may need to be changed. “The focus may shift from kharif to rabi, as sowing post northeast monsoon, during winter, may benefit the farmers and avoid damage to standing crop,” he said.