Tragic loss: Torrential rain and a flooded river breached this dam in Tivare, Maharashtra and claimed 14 lives | Image: IndiaYahooFinance

Monsoon 2019: Maharashtra goes under, but India still records rain deficit

Mumbai began the month of July by once again coming to a screeching halt amidst torrential rain. The city has already received almost half of the season’s rain – 1,043.1mm recorded so far, while normal seasonal rainfall is 2,272.2mm. Reports of wall collapses in the city and its surrounding areas have killed at least 30 people so far. Tragedy also struck on the Konkan coast after a dam breached last Tuesday night in Ratnagiri district’s Tivare village, killing at least 14 people with several still missing.

The rest of the country is still playing catch up as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) reported India received 6% less rainfall than the 50-year average in the week ended on July 3. A July deficit would mean disaster as historically, less rainfall in this month is associated with an overall deficit monsoon and severe droughts. The big picture: In India, dormant monsoons interspersed with extreme rainfall events may have just become a trend.   

Europe hits record temperatures, human-induced climate change worsening every heatwave 

Europe is currently in the grips of an intense heatwave. The continent recorded its highest temperature ever – 45.9°C in Gallargues-le-Montueux in southern France, which is 1.8°C higher than the previous record from 2003. While the UN said it was too soon to attribute the heatwave to climate change, it added that the rise in temperature is “absolutely consistent” with extremes linked to the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. 

A separate study, however, didn’t mince any words while stating the record-breaking heatwave was made at least five – and possibly 100 – times more likely by climate change. The increased demand for air-conditioners in Europe may also start a vicious global warming cycle as most of the energy is likely to come from fossil fuels.  But the immediate impact is also dangerous:  The World Wildlife Fund has warned of the risks from new faster-spreading wildfires primarily due to the heatwaves and droughts across Europe.

India’s water shortage may cut its food exports

Acute water shortage in India is likely to hit its food exports, the country’s water resources minister warned last week. The impact would largely be borne by the 12 million tonnes of rice that the country exports annually because it is a water intensive crop. According to experts, Indian farmers need approximately 4,000-5,000 litres of water to grow one kilo of rice. But the below-average monsoon season in 2018, which hasn’t improved this year, is only going to worsen the situation, experts said.  

Congo rainforest experiencing longer dry season

A long-term drying trend over the Congo basin could have an adverse impact on the world’s second-largest rainforest. A study published in Nature Climate Change determined that the length of the boreal summer (June to August) has increased — 6.4 to 10.4 days per decade from 1988 to 2013 – which could affect the tropical rainforest’s photosynthesis and productivity.

On a larger scale, a longer summer could also accelerate global warming as the rainforest also serves as a carbon sink, the study’s researchers said. The study is even more relevant as observations on Congo’s climate have been largely limited, with most studies focused on the much larger Amazon forest, where a longer dry season has also been observed.   

Training AI proving costly to the environment

While Artificial Intelligence is making life easier for humans, its impact on the environment is also significant. According to a study, a common AI training model can emit more than 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide – five times the lifetime emissions of the average American car. The study focused on the process of natural-language processing (NLP), which is a subfield of AI that works on making machines understand human language. Training the machines requires huge data sets from the Internet – which means using a lot of computer power and as a result copious amounts of energy.

Plane’s contrails worse for climate than its emissions, says study

While most of the world’s climate change experts are focused on the carbon footprint left behind by airplanes, a new study states it’s the contrails that the plane leaves that are more of a concern. Contrails, which are cirrus clouds that form when the moisture in the jet engine exhaust freezes into ice crystals, lead to more climate warming than the carbon in the exhaust, the study opines. This effect, which is called Contrail Cirrus Radiative Forcing, is set to increase by a factor of three by 2050, according to the study. 

Urbanisation pushing temperature up in eastern India: Study

A study, which took a closer look at climate change in often-forgotten eastern India, made a startling revelation – warming induced by changes in land use and land cover is making the region hotter. The study by IITs at Bhubaneswar and Kharagpur, and Southampton University found that over three decades (1981-2010), Odisha’s mean temperature rose by 0.3°C, with larger cities such as Cuttack and Bhubaneswar experiencing a greater rise than smaller ones – thereby pointing to the effect urbanisation and deforestation were having on the climate.  

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