Weeks after the devastating flash floods in Sikkim due to the bursting of a glacial lake, the first concrete measures to address the risks of such lakes may be imminent. According to reporting by Reuters, India will install the first batch of monitoring systems at some high-risk glacial lakes in the Himalayas next year. as the country responds to deadly floods this month that killed at least 60 people. State governments are to provide inputs for prioritisation among the 56 at-risk glacial lakes identified thus far in India. Based on the observed data from the monitoring system installed next year, plans are to develop and install a more comprehensive early warning system.
Despite the clear dangers, as evidenced in Sikkim this month and in Uttarakhand last year, there seems to be little change in the official stance regarding high-altitude hydropower. In a suo-moto case, the NGT issued notices to the Sikkim Government, the Sikkim Urja Limited and the NHPC on a hearing on the breach of the Chungthang dam which led to the recent devastating flash floods in the Himalayan state. India, however, said it will not rethink its hydel expansion – despite the mess created by Teesta 3.
Ice melt in Antarctica locked in, regardless of emission reduction efforts, suggests study
Alarm bells are ringing on the state of polar ice sheets. The ice cover over Antarctica shrunk to its lowest maximum winter extent ever recorded in September, in the midst of the Antarctic winter. The melt in Antarctica, according to scientists, is a decades-long response to global warming. Compounding matters, a new study this week claimed that ice melt from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is unavoidable in spite of emission reduction efforts. According to the authors, the ice sheet, which is Antarctica’s biggest contributor to global sea level rise, will continue to see rapid ice loss over the rest of this century as ocean warming rates in the Southern Ocean remain high.
Billions at risk of heat and humidity exposure beyond human levels: Report
According to a new study, if global temperatures increase by 2°C above pre-industrial levels, the 2.2 billion residents of Pakistan and India’s Indus river valley, the one billion people living in eastern China and the 800 million residents of sub-Saharan Africa will annually experience many hours of heat that surpass human tolerance. The study also said if global temperatures increase by 1°C or more than current levels, each year billions of people will be exposed to heat and humidity so extreme they will be unable to naturally cool themselves,
The researcher team modelled global temperature increases ranging between 1.5°C and 4°C — considered the worst-case scenario where warming would begin to accelerate — to identify areas of the planet where warming would lead to heat and humidity levels that exceed human limits. Humans can only withstand certain combinations of heat and humidity before their bodies begin to experience heat-related health problems, such as heat stroke or heart attack. As climate change pushes temperatures higher around the world, billions of people could be pushed beyond these limits.
“Spinning out of balance”: WMO warns of disruptions in the global water cycle
The WMO released its State of Global Water Resources 2022 report this past fortnight. The meteorological agency pulled no punches in calling out an alarming situation. The hydrological cycle, it says, is “spinning out of balance” due to human activities and climate change. An “increasingly erratic” water cycle, it adds, is likely to drive new patters of extreme flooding and droughts around the world, the WMO has warned.
“Glaciers and ice cover are retreating before our eyes. Rising temperatures have accelerated – and also disrupted – the water cycle. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture. We are seeing much heavier precipitation episodes and flooding. And at the opposite extreme, more evaporation, dry soils and more intense droughts,”
Lightning deaths in India on a steep rise, 34.24% increase in strikes: Data
There has been a 34.24 % increase in the overall count of lightning strikes across the country between 2021-2022 and 2022-23, according to a new report by Climate Resilient Observing-Systems Promotion Council (CROPC). Cloud to ground lightning has recorded an increase of 23.46%, and Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest cloud to ground lightning strikes followed by Maharashtra, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, accounted for over 60% of India’s lightning-related deaths between 2001-21.
Drought, unusual heat and wildfires turn Amazonian capital into climate dystopia
Amazon basin is reeling under extreme drought and unusually dry season, reports the Guardian adding that there have been so many fires burning in the surrounding forest that air-quality monitors last week registered 387 micrograms of pollution a cubic metre, compared with 122 in Brazil’s economic capital of São Paulo. The drought and fires have turned the Amazonian capital of Manaus into a “climate dystopia”, with the second worst air quality in the world and rivers at the lowest levels in 121 years, reports the Guardian. The impact is worsened by El Niño and human-caused climate change, threatening the city’s 1 million residents and the survival prospects of the entire Amazon basin, the article continues.
Over 100 dolphins died a month ago in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest and many more could perish if water temperatures remain high, AP reported. By the end of 2023 around 500,000 people will be affected as essential supplies such as food and water get out of reach because the principal means of transportation in the region is waterways, and river levels are historically low. In late September, 55 of 62 municipalities entered states of emergency due to the severe drought.
Summer of 2023 recorded as the ‘hottest’ summer of all time
The El Niño phenomenon fuelled by human-induced global warming drove extreme weather events around the world in 2023. The northern hemisphere recorded the hottest summer (June to August) where the global average temperature reached 16.77C, which was 0.66C above the 1991 to 2020 average. The new high is 0.29C above the previous record set in 2019. August was about 1.5C warmer than the preindustrial average for 1850 to 1900.