Cyclones Tauktae leaves a trail of destruction on India’s west coast, scientists flag clear links to climate change

Cyclones Tauktae leaves a trail of destruction on India’s west coast, scientists flag clear links to climate change

Cyclone Tauktae hit the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra on Monday with wind speeds up to 185km/h. The cyclone caused widespread heavy rainfall and is estimated to have killed at least 57 people across states on the west coast. Rescue and recovery operations conducted by the Indian navy are currently ongoing for 49 missing workers of an ONGC-operated barge off the Mumbai coast.

Scientists have linked the growing number of cyclones around the Indian peninsula, including Tauktae, to climate change. The intensity with which the cyclones are making landfall is an indication of this link, according to the paper.

Cyclones are usually fueled by the heat in oceans and seas and when temperatures are 28°C and above. Rapidly rising sea surface temperature in the Arabian Sea in the past century has seen strong correlations with frequent and intense cyclones. Apart from Tauktae, the other recent cyclones such as Ockhi, Fani and Amphan rapidly changed from weak cyclonic storms to extremely severe cyclones within a span of 24 hours, the paper stated. 

Another cloud-burst event reported in Uttarakhand; climate change to blame?

A cloud-burst like event occurred in the upper reaches of Devprayag last week, a town in Uttarakhand, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). The event led to a sudden rise in the water flow of a rivulet called Gadera, which damaged surrounding infrastructure. Environmentalists protesting against the region’s proposed Char Dham project are worried such cloudbursts, which are occurring at regular intervals in the region recently, could lead to major damage, both to the environment and the workers. The project aims to widen the Char Dham highway in order to connect the four holy shrines in Uttarakhand that are part of the Char Dham yatra.   

Raghu Murtugudde, a climate scientist at the University of Maryland, told Down To Earth that these cloudburst events in Uttarakhand, which began on May 3, could be a result of warming in the region

World’s largest iceberg breaks off in Antarctica coast

The world’s largest iceberg – the size of the Spanish island of Majorca – broke off the coast of Antarctica. Iceberg A-76 measures around 170 kilometers (105 miles) long and 25 kilometers (15 miles) wide. It is currently floating on the Weddell Sea, according to the European Space Agency.  

GHGs shrinking Earth’s stratosphere, say scientists

Greenhouse emissions because of human activities are thinning the stratosphere, a new study revealed. The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, found the thickness of the stratosphere had reduced by 800m since the 1980s and could shrink by upto a kilometre by 2080 in a business-as-usual scenario. The study used satellite observations since the 1980s along with multiple climate models to arrive at its conclusion. The thinning may affect satellites, GPS and other space-based navigational systems, according to the researchers.   

Climate crisis could put 1/3rd of global food production at risk: Study

If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise unabated, a third of the global food production will be at risk, according to a recent study. According to researchers at Aalto University in Finland, around 95% of the current crop-producing regions fall in a “safe climatic space”, which are areas that have weather conditions conducive to growing food crops. 

If the projected 3.7°C rise in temperature was to occur by the end of the century, however, these areas would shrink considerably, stated the paper published in the journal One Earth. The regions most affected would be south and south-eastern Asia and the Sudano-Sahelian zone in Africa. If the world was successful in limiting the temperature rise to 1.5-2°C, however, only 5% to 8% of global food production would be at rise, it stated.

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