Good news: India’s ‘normal’ monsoon prediction will bring some relief to the country that has been hit by a severe lockdown for more than a month | Photo: Deccan Herald

IMD predicts ‘normal’ monsoon for India this year

India’s monsoon season this year is likely to be normal, according to a long-range forecast (LRF) issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). The IMD has predicted the intensity to be at anywhere between 96% and 104% LRF this year. This is good news for farmers who are reeling from the Covid-19 lockdown as well as excess rain in March.

It is important to note, however, that a ‘normal monsoon’ in total does not mean ‘normal distribution’ of rain. The IMD’s first LRF does not give any specifics on the expected spatio-temporal distribution across the country. A better picture of this, however, can be expected in the second LRF in May. An internal assessment note available with the government has, however, has made an initial month-wise prediction of ‘below normal’ rainfall during June, long dry spells in July and ‘excess rainfall’ to make up for the deficiency during August and September — almost similar to last year’s pattern.

GHG emissions drop not enough to reverse climate crisis: WMO

Even as the world reports a massive drop in greenhouse gas emissions because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it isn’t enough to reverse the climate crisis, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.

These reductions are only temporary, WMO said, adding that the pandemic was likely to make a bad situation worse for people affected by climate disasters. The organization urged governments to add green measures into their coronavirus relief packages.  

Climate change contributing to severity of mega drought already underway in western US: Study

Scientists have warned that a mega drought, the worst western US has seen ever, is already underway, according to a recent study, published in the journal Science. While the mega drought is a naturally occurring event that began in 2000, the climate change-related temperature rise is making it even more severe, researchers said.

There have been four mega droughts western US has seen – the first one dating back to the late 800s. The present mega drought is already worse than three of the four recorded, researchers said. Another study published in the journal Earth’s Future, concluded that by the end of the 21st century, many parts of the world could see an increase in drought frequency and severity even with the most robust climate change action.

UN climate science report likely to include important lessons from coronavirus

The next UN climate science report, due to be published in stages over 2021-22, is likely to include lessons from the coronavirus – primarily how human pressure on the natural world are raising the risk of pandemics. The coronavirus is believed to have first originated in animals (bats) before jumping to humans in Wuhan, China.

The UN report will study how rising human population, air pollution and the destruction of wildlife habitats raised the risk of such a virus jumping from animals to humans.

Poland fighting its largest wildfire in years

While Poland faces its most severe drought in decades, marshes in the Biebrza National Park in northeastern Poland are being destroyed by wildfires spread across 6,000 hectares. According to officials, the fire was most likely to have been caused by illegal grass burning. While wildfires are not unusual in the region, this has been the largest to break out in years, officials said. Environmentalists are blaming climate change for the severity and are pushing for a change in the country’s water management policies.

Meanwhile, new data has indicated that 2019 was the warmest year on record for Europe thanks to a series of heatwaves. While globally, temperatures in the past five years have risen to just over 1°C above pre-industrial levels, Europe has seen a 2°C rise during the same period, according to the data which comes from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Service.

Arctic likely to have iceless summer within next 30 years: Study

A recent study concluded that the Arctic region will see an iceless summer within the next 30 years, blaming climate change for the loss. Climate change could have ‘devastating consequences’ to the Arctic’s ecosystem by 2050, the study warned. This is now inevitable, regardless of whether emissions are reduced, according to the researchers.    

Greenland’s ice sheet shrank by a record amount last year, another study found. The region lost 600 billion tonnes of water, an amount that could contribute to a 1.5mm rise in sea levels, according to the study.

Extreme rainfall caused Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano to erupt in 2018: Study

Researchers found that it was excessive and sustained rainfall that caused the Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii to erupt two years ago. The new study, published in the journal Nature, stated that wet rocks in the volcano, which are already under pressure from magma, break easier than dry rock. The Kīlauea region had seen persistent extreme rainfall in the months leading up to the eruption. The study concluded that with climate change, the potential for rainfall-triggered volcanic activity could greatly increase across the world in the years to come, a point that has not been seriously explored in previous studies.

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