Overstaying its welcome? The Indian monsoon still remains a long way from exiting the subcontinent a fortnight after the season officially ended | Photo: Skymet Weather

Monsoon withdraws a month late in India

For the first time in 59 years, the withdrawal of India’s monsoon season has been delayed to the month October – October 10 to be precise. The last time this happened was in 1961 when the rain began retreating on October 1. This is highly unusual for a country that usually moves on to the next season by September 1. Over the past few years, however, the season has been facing delays of up to a few weeks. India finishes its monsoon season with above normal rains at 110% of the long-period average (LPA). This, despite that fact that rains arrived a week late and the month of June ended with a rainfall deficit of 33%.

This year’s monsoon has killed several hundreds and devastated various parts of the country. According to the Union home ministry, more than 2,100 people have been killed so far and another 46 have been reported missing because of unrelenting rain and floods. Overall, 25 lakh people have been affected this monsoon season across 22 states, according to official data. 

Not just intensities, heatwave sizes also set become larger

The increase in heatwave intensity and frequency around the world has been clearly evident in recent years, and is expected to keep increasing. Studies thus far though, had not shed light on how the spatial scope of heatwaves is also likely to change under future climate scenarios. For the first time, in a new study, scientists, funded in part by the NOAA Climate Program Office’s Climate Observations and Monitoring Program, examined this aspect under two different scenarios. They found that by mid-century, in a middle greenhouse emissions scenario, the average size of heat waves could increase by 50%. Under high greenhouse gas concentrations, the average size could increase by 80% and the more extreme heat waves could more than double in size. The findings have implications for planning, apart from the obvious health considerations. “Larger heat waves would also increase electrical loads and peak energy demand on the grid as more people and businesses turn on air conditioning in response,” explained Brad Lyon, lead author of the paper published in Environmental Research Letters.

UK in danger of losing a quarter of its mammals, reveals study

A report on the state of the natural world in the UK revealed that more than a quarter of mammals are facing extinction. The State of Nature report said one in seven species was facing the threat, and 41% of the 7,000 species that were examined for the study, have experienced a decline since 1970.

The same report also outlined the ‘widespread changes’ brought on by climate change on the country’s natural wildlife, especially on its ‘abundance, distribution and ecology’. The study stated that many species, including birds, butterflies, moths and dragonflies have shifted their range north over the last four decades, moving by, on average, 20km per decade. 

Lake algal blooms also increasing worldwide finds first-of-its-kind study

The IPCC SRCC report published last year touched on the increasing frequency and size of algal blooms around the world, threatening ocean productivity in several coastal regions. A new study, published in the journal Nature, now has found that the situation is just as dire in freshwater lakes across the world. In a first-of-its-kind global study encompassing 71 large lakes in 33 countries on six continents, scientists found that peak intensity of summer algal blooms had increased on over two-thirds of the lakes observed, while only six showed decreased intensities. Researchers analysed more than 72 billion data points compiled from 30 years of data from NASA and the US Geological Survey’s Landsat 5 near-Earth satellite, which monitored the planet’s surface between 1984 and 2013. While reasons for increasing intensity were inconsistent and location specific, scientists found that only lakes that experienced the least warming were able to sustain any improvements in bloom conditions seen over 30 years.

CO2 emissions causing labour productivity loss, has dented global GDP by 2% already

Climate change is expected to cost trillions of dollars in damages through its impacts on several economic sectors. While extreme weather and higher temperatures also imply loss of labour productivity, the extent of this expected loss as correlation of carbon emissions has thus far mostly been speculative. A new study published by researchers from the Concordia University now claims that every trillion tonnes of CO2 emitted could cause losses in labour productivity amounting to 0.5% of the GDP. Last year, the world emitted about 40 billion tonnes of CO2. According to the study, cumulative emissions have already caused a GDP reduction of around 2%. With agriculture, mining and quarrying, manufacturing and construction being the most vulnerable economic sectors, low-income and developing countries are likely to be affected the most by the productivity loss.