Erratic: Mumbai faced the brunt of a fierce resurgence in monsoon activity following a dry July | Photo: Scroll

Monsoon Update: Wet start to August offsets deficit from driest July in five years

An uptick in monsoon activity in the first days of August has seen the nationwide monsoon deficit fall from 10% recorded at the end of July to just 1% on August 5. Poor rainfall was recorded in north and central India in July with heavy deficits recorded across almost half the country. Activity, however, has picked up in the beginning of August as the monsoon continues with erratic distribution- particularly in rain rich regions in the Western Ghats and the Northeast where heavy deficits have been recorded alongside big excesses.

While the weather department issued a ‘red alert’ for Mumbai, which braved incessant rain and cyclonic wind speeds for two consecutive days, the season’s first low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal is likely to bring heavy rains over eastern India over the coming week.

A new study, however, claimed that the intensity of India’s monsoon season is likely to weaken in the near future because of the warming of the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal that is accentuated by land mass changes. This study by the National Institute of Oceanography at Goa is significant because unlike other studies, which rely on temperature and rainfall variations recorded by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), this one reviewed under-sediment cores derived from the Krishna Godavari basin of the Bay of Bengal to understand rainfall pattern changes in the past 2,000 years.

Neighbouring China and Bangladesh have been left devastated as a result of torrential rain. Up to 50 million people have been affected in China, while a third of Bangladesh’s population has been displaced because of massive flooding.

Heatwave days in India increased by over 80% in 2019: Report

A new report found that the average number of heatwave days saw an increase in 2019 after recording a decline the previous two years. State-wise data in the EnviStats India 2020 report released by National Statistical Office (NSO) revealed there were 157 heatwave days in 2019 – which is an 82.6% year-on-year increase.

Rajasthan was the worst-hit (20 days) followed by Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand (13 days each). The report stated 2019 had the third-highest number of heatwave days in the past decade after 2010 (254 days) and 2012 (189 days).

Expect significant temperature rise in J&K Himalaya region by end of century: Study

A new study predicted a significant temperature rise in the Jammu and Kashmir Himalaya region by the end of the 21st century. The study projected three scenarios – it predicted the average annual temperature in the region to rise by 4.5 °C, 3.98 °C, and 6.93 °C, depending on the rate of emissions rise and climate change. The study also predicted that the cold desert climate zone in the Ladakh region would shrink by 22% with a corresponding rise in subtropical and temperate zones by the end of the century.

First active leak of methane found in Antarctica sea bed

A group of scientists have revealed the first active leak of methane from Antarctica’s sea floor. The scientists also found that microbes that absorb the gas before it reaches the atmosphere were small in number even five years after the leak was first detected in 2011. The scientists, however, have not linked the leak to climate change as yet because the Ross Sea, where the leak was found, is not yet warmed significantly.

3 billion animals killed, displaced by Australian bushfires, say scientists

The Australian bushfire season of 2019 and 2020 killed or displaced nearly 3 billion animals, scientists said. The first glimpse into the scale of the impact revealed an estimated 143 million mammals, 180 million birds, 51 million frogs and 2.5 billion reptiles were affected by the fires. Even if the animals survived the fires, the resultant starvation, dehydration and predation by feral animals – mostly cats – that followed is sure to have killed them, scientists said.  

Two Arctic ice caps disappear; region’s sea ice records all-time low

Images from NASA’s Terra satellite revealed two Arctic ice caps, located on the Hazen Plateau of Canada’s Ellsmere Island, have completely disappeared. The National Snow and Ice Data Center linked the disappearance to global warming.

Sea ice hit an all-time low for this time of the year in the Arctic region, which has been battling record-high temperatures and massive wildfires. A cyclone was also observed over the thinning ice.  The National Snow and Ice Data Center observed that sea ice was disappearing at a rate of more than 56,400 square miles a day earlier this month compared with the usual rate of 33,000 square miles. The Siberian coast has been hit the hardest, according to satellite images.

‘Worst case scenario’ of rise in temperatures is still best policy guide until 2050: Study  

In a wake up call for climate action, a new US study has defended the RCP 8.5 CO2 emissions scenario, also called a “worst case scenario” as the ‘most useful choice’ for the governments to plan climate policy until 2050. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study states that the UN panel of climate scientists in reports over the past decade, had accurately tracked cumulative CO2 emissions to within 1% in the years 2005-2020. 

The representative concentration pathway RCP 8.5 estimates a surge in temperatures of up to 5C above pre-industrial times by 2100, way higher than the target of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit warming “well below 2C”, agreed by 200 countries. The study states that the scenario remains consistent with announced government policies until 2050 and has “highly plausible” levels of CO2 emissions in 2100, Climate Home reported.

The study also states that the usefulness of RCP 8.5 is not changed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If pandemic restrictions continued till end 2020 it would result in a reduction in emissions of -4.7 Gt CO2. This represents less than 1% of total cumulative CO2 emissions since 2005 for all RCPs and observations, the report stated.

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