Cold snap: A sweeping cold wave across north India has brought temperatures "markedly below normal" | Photo:

India begins new year with coldwaves, unseasonal rainfall

The new year has brought with it some confusing weather. While parts of India, mostly in the north, including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, are battling a severe cold wave, northeast, western and southern India have been hit by some unseasonal rainfall. This week, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) reported maximum temperatures to be “markedly below normal” (-5.0 degrees or less) in west Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha, Haryana, Chandigarh, east Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi, and Odisha.

The southern states of Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh are likely to receive rainfall this week, along with Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Meghalaya, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. East Madhya Pradesh and Vidarbha in Maharashtra, according to the IMD. Mumbai and parts of Maharashtra also recorded unseasonal rainfall in the new year. The city also recorded its lowest temperature in a decade at 13.2°C.

An IMD study also found that deaths in India because of coldwaves were 76 times more than heatwaves. In 2020, 152 deaths were recorded due to cold waves in comparison to just two deaths as a result of heat waves. According to the report, this disparity was the highest it has been in the past 20 years.   

Study maps India’s climate disasters, impacts in past 25 years

India reported a total of 1,058 climatic disasters between 1995 and 2020, a new study found. These events include floods, cyclones, droughts, cold waves and heat waves. The study by GIZ India attempted the spatio-temporal mapping of climatic and biological disaster outbreaks in India in the past two-and-a-half decades. Of the 1,058 climate disaster incidents, floods topped the list and accounted for 33% of the events. Heat waves came in second at 24% followed by drought (22%), cold waves (16%), and cyclones (5%). Cyclones accounted for 48% of India’s overall human life loss due to climate-related disasters, followed by heat waves (26%), floods (18%) and cold waves (8%).

Deforestation tracking in Brazilian savanna to stop due to lack of funds

In a blow to efforts to prevent deforestation in Brazil, officials claimed they would stop tracking the destruction of the Cerrado, which is the world’s most species-rich savanna. The reason is a lack of funds. The news comes days after data revealed deforestation in the region was at a 6-year high last year. The region is crucial in the fight against climate change because of the high amount of carbon that it absorbs. A minimal team will continue tracking deforestation in the region, but will be out of funds in six months, researchers said. 

Deforestation in southern West Africa, meanwhile, has caused the frequency of storms to double in 30 years in the coastal region, according to a new study. While analysing three decades of satellite data over a 300km coastal belt, researchers found the region had very little intact forest left. This late-stage deforestation is leading to more coastal storms because of the increasing thermal contrast between the land and ocean, the study stated. 

Loss of ice in Russian High Arctic doubled in recent years: Study

A new study revealed that the loss of ice in the Russian High Arctic has doubled recently. Using measurements taken between 2010 and 2017, researchers found surface elevation changes in 93% of the glaciers of the archipelagos in the Russian High Arctic. It estimated an overall mass loss rate of 22 billion tonnes of ice per year, which is equivalent to a sea level rise contribution of 0.06mm per year.

Hurricane Ida most financially devastating climate event of 2021: Study

A new report by Christian Aid studied the 10 most financially devastating climate events last year. It found Hurricane Ida in the US topped the list, causing damage of more than $65 billion. The European floods came in second, causing devastation worth $43 billion, according to the report. The two major cyclones that hit India last year, Tauktae and Yaas, were h on the list, causing damage worth $1.5 billion and $3 billion, respectively. Four of the 10 most costliest climate events were in Asia, the study found. 

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