Climate Change in India

Climate Change & its possible Impact on India

Activists send a clear message about the problems of global warming.
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India, the seventh largest country in the world and the second largest in Asia, has a total geographical area of 329 Mha, of which only 305 Mha is the reporting area (the area as per the land records of villages and towns). The mainland stretches from 8o4 N to 37o6 N and 68o7 E to 97o 25 E. It has a land frontier of 15,200 km and a coastline of 7,516 km.
India, the seventh largest country in the world and the second largest in Asia, has a total geographical area of 329 Mha, of which only 305 Mha is the reporting area (the area as per the land records of villages and towns). The mainland stretches from 8o4 N to 37o6 N and 68o7 E to 97o 25 E. It has a land frontier of 15,200 km and a coastline of 7,516 km.
In developing countries like India, climate change could represent an additional stress on ecological and socioeconomic systems that are already facing tremendous pressures due to rapid urbanization, industrialization and economic development. With its huge and growing population, a 7500-km long densely populated and low-lying coastline, and an economy that is closely tied to its natural resource base, India is considerably vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
The various studies conducted in the country have shown that the surface air temperatures in India are going up at the rate of 0.4oC per hundred years, particularly during the post-monsoon and winter season. Using models, they predict that mean winter temperatures will increase by as much as 3.2oC in the 2050s and 4.5oC by 2080s, due to Greenhouse gases. Summer temperatures will increase by 2.2oC in the 2050s and 3.2oC in the 2080s.
Extreme temperatures and heat spells have already become common over Northern India, often causing loss of human life. In 1998 alone, 650 deaths occurred in Orissa due to heat waves.
Climate change has had an effect on the monsoons too. India is heavily dependent on the monsoon to meet its agricultural and water needs, and also for protecting and propagating its rich biodiversity. Subtle changes have already been noted in the monsoon rain patterns by scientists at IIT, Delhi. They also warn that India will experience a decline in summer rainfall by the 2050s, summer rainfall accounts for almost 70% of the total annual rainfall over India and is crucial to Indian agriculture.
Relatively small climatic changes can cause large water resource problems, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions such as northwest India. This will have an impact on agriculture, drinking water and on generation of hydro-electric power.
Apart from monsoon rains, India uses perennial rivers, which originate and depend on glacial melt-water in the Hindukush and Himalayan ranges. Since the melting season coincides with the summer monsoon season, any intensification of the monsoon is likely to contribute to flood disasters in the Himalayan catchment. Rising temperatures will also contribute to the raising of snowline, reducing the capacity of this natural reservoir, and increasing the risk of flash floods during the wet season.
Increased temperatures will impact agricultural production. Higher temperatures reduce the total duration of a crop cycle by inducing early flowering, thus shortening the `grain fill??™ period. The shorter the crop cycle, the lower the yield per unit area.
A trend of sea level rise of 1 cm per decade has been recorded along the Indian coast. Sea level rise due to thermal expansion of sea water in the Indian Ocean is expected to be about 25-040 cm by 2050. This could inundate low lying areas, down coastal marshes and wetlands, erode beaches, exacerbate flooding and increase the salinity of rivers, bays and aquifers.
Deltas will be threatened by flooding, erosion and salt intrusion. Loss of coastal mangroves will have an impact on fisheries. The major delta area of the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Indus rivers, which have large populations reliant on riverine resources will be affected by changes in water regimes, salt water intrusions and land loss.
Increase in temperatures will result in shifts of lower altitude tropical and subtropical forests to higher altitude temperate forest regions, resulting in the extinction of some temperate vegetation types. Decrease in rainfall and the resultant soil moisture stress could result in drier teak dominated forests replacing sal trees in central India. Increased dry spells could also place dry and moist deciduous forests at increased risk from forest fires.
Medical Science suggests that the rise in temperature and change in humidity will adversely affect human health in India. Heat stress could result in heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heal stroke, and damage physiological functions, metabolic processes and immune systems. Increased temperatures can increase the range of vector borne diseases such as malaria, particularly in regions where minimum temperatures currently limited pathogen and vector development.