Thunder and fury: Cyclone Nisarga hit India’s west coast, including Maharashtra and Gujarat, on June 3, killing four people | Photo: Deccan Herald

Cyclone Nisarga passes through India’s west coast; Assam hit by torrential rain, flooding

Shortly after Cyclone Amphan ripped through West Bengal and Bangladesh, a relatively milder Cyclone Nisarga hit India’s west coast, including Maharashtra and Gujarat, on June 3, killing four people. In Maharashtra, more than five lakh structures were damaged in Raigad district, which was the worst hit region in the state. Mumbai, which was expected to be in the eye of the storm, remained in its periphery as the cyclone moved away rapidly once it made landfall in Alibaug. The cyclone also damaged phone lines and electricity connections in eight of the district’s 15 talukas, including Alibag, Murud, Pen, Tala, Srivardhan, Margaon, Mhasala and Roha.    

The Arabian Sea has already hosted record cyclone activity in 2019. Scientists believe the recent increase of tropical cyclone activity in the north Indian Ocean is part of a global pattern due to warming trends in Earth’s atmosphere and seas.

Assam, meanwhile, battled torrential rain and floods after the weakening of Cyclone Amphan, displacing more than 59,000 people across five districts.

The monsoon season has begun in India, with the IMD officially declaring its arrival in Kerala at the beginning of this month. Weathermen have predicted that rains will be normal this year at 100% of the long period average.  

Despite COVID-19 lockdown, global CO2 emissions at record high in May

Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii reported a record carbon dioxide level of 417 parts per million (ppm) in May, which is much higher than the record of 414.8ppm set last year. While worldwide emissions have dropped, as much as 26% in some countries, because of the lockdown, there are other natural factors, such as how plants and soils react to temperature, humidity, that contribute to overall emissions, scientists said. According to researchers, it would take CO2 reductions of up to 20%-30% for six to 12 months to slow down the rate of increase in the measurements at Mauna Loa.

Receding glacier in Kashmir could be a result of change in local land use, say scientists

According to a new research paper published in the journal Water, the Kolahoi Glacier, the largest one in Kashmir Himalayas, has reduced even further in area over three years as compared to a 2017 study. Experts have blamed climate change as well as local land use changes, such as deforestation and conversion of agricultural land into built-up area, for the receding glacier.   

Ocean carbon sink may shrink as greenhouse gas emissions are cut: Study  

Human activity and volcanic eruptions are affecting the rate at which oceans absorb carbon dioxide, a new study published in the journal AGU Advances has found. The study said the ocean is so sensitive to even the slightest drop in greenhouse gas emissions that it immediately reacts by absorbing less CO2.

This finding may come into play with the fall in fuel consumptions due to COVID-19 restrictions, according to the study. The researchers observed the variability in ocean carbon intake between 1980 and 2017. There was a brief moment in the early 1990s when the ocean absorbed more CO2 and then slowly took up less until 2001. The study explained that the sudden increase in the ocean carbon sink could have been because of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.

The subsequent slowdown in ocean carbon intake could have been a result of slow growth rate of atmospheric CO2 in the 1990s, possibly because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries.

Researchers said knowing that oceans may temporarily limit the effectiveness of climate mitigation – when GHGs fall – by absorbing lesser amounts of atmospheric CO2 should be accounted for in policymaking.  

Siberian heat wave pushes up global May temperatures to record high

Unusually high temperatures in Siberia in May this year propelled global average temperatures to a record high in May, according to the EU’s science division, Copernicus Climate Change Service. Parts of Siberia recorded a monthly average temperature that was 18°C above normal. The scientists also found the January to May period to be the hottest on record since 1979. According to the scientists, globally, May was 1.13° (0.63°C) above average compared with average May temperatures from 1981-2010, beating the previous record set in 2016.

Oil spill in Russian Arctic pollutes freshwater lake

A huge spill of diesel oil in Russia’s Arctic north polluted a freshwater lake, and is now threatening to spread to the Arctic Ocean, Russian officials said. The oil spill, which began on May 29, is the worst accident of its kind in the region, according to the officials. Around 21,000 tonnes of oil has contaminated the Ambarnaya river so far. The leak is believed to have started after a storage tank near Norilsk sank because of melting permafrost after weeks of unusually warm weather in the region, with some pointing to a global warming link.

500 species likely to go extinct in next two decades: Study

A new study has predicted that over 500 species are likely to go extinct over the next two decades. The world is already suffering from mass extinction as a result of human activity and this unnatural loss is already accelerating, the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found. In a less toxic world, losing 500 species would have taken over 16,000 years.

Species that are on the brink of extinction are in Asia and Oceania, with the study pointing out to the Western Ghats and the Himalayas in India especially.

Another study warned that human activity is threatening the evolutionary history of the world’s terrestrial vertebrates. According to the study’s calculations, the Caribbean, India’s Western Ghats, and large parts of Southeast Asia — regions that are home to the most unique evolutionary history — are facing unprecedented levels of human-related devastation. The terrestrial vertebrates in these regions require urgent conservation, according to the study.

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