Washing away: Floods caused by heavy monsoon rain are wreaking havoc in northeast India and Bangladesh | Photo: Sachin Bharali_Instagram

More than 100 killed in monsoon floods across northeast India, Bangladesh

At least 115 people were killed in floods, lightning and landslides caused by heavy monsoon rain in northeast India and Bangladesh this past week. Officials in Assam said all 33 districts in the state had been affected by the floods, which had caused massive damage to its infrastructure. 

In neighbouring Meghalaya, the towns of Cherrapunji and Mawsynram also recorded high levels of monsoon rainfall. The latter recorded 40 inches of rainfall in 24 hours, the wettest June day since 1966. 

In Bangladesh’s Sylhet region, heavy rainfall led to massive flooding. This after the region had already witnessed large-scale flooding last month after the Brahmaputra and other rivers broke their banks. At lest 38 people died in this month’s flooding, according to officials.

Weak monsoon and heat threaten crop yields in India 

A delayed and weak monsoon has been observed in India so far, even after an early onset in Kerala. Further delay can be a cause of worry for farmers waiting to sow their crops.  A timely monsoon would give respite from the prolonged and intense heatwave that parts of the country have been witnessing and can bring a much needed relief to farmers. As a result of high and consistent heat, substantial reduction in wheat crop yields, an estimated 10-35%, has been observed in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The Global Food Policy Report 2022 by the International Food Policy Research Institute has warned that climate change may push 90 million Indians towards hunger by 2030 due to a decline in agricultural production and disruption in the food supply chain. 

Warming waters in Ganges become breeding ground for invasive species 

A rise in the mean annual temperature by 1 to 4 degrees Celsius is predicted between 2010 and 2050 in Ganges river basin. Warmer waters could potentially open up newer parts of the Ganges river to non-native species such as the common carp, tilapia and African catfish, allowing them to occupy waters previously uninhabited by them. India’s National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) lists these species as a great threat to the country’s freshwater biodiversity. 

In the long run, invasive species can interfere with ecological niches, biodiversity and can build their own environment to thrive in, and disrupt ecosystem services. In case of aquatic invasion management, prevention is the only cost-effective solution till date. 

Heat waves in Europe and US break records

Parts of the USA have been experiencing high temperatures and humidity over the last couple of days, with 100 million Americans being warned to stay indoors.  Temperatures in several inland areas of California soared way above the normal, with a record high for 11 June of 122°F (50°C) reached in Death Valley. The heat wave, which set several high temperature records in the West, the Southwest and into Denver during the weekend, moved east.

Excessive heat causes more deaths in the US than other weather-related disasters, including hurricanes, floods and tornadoes combined. Experts say that such intense heat waves are more likely in the future because of the climate crisis and a deepening drought in the American west. 

Across the Atlantic, in western Europe, too, temperatures soared to new record highs for the month of June. The spell of hot weather triggered forest fires notably in several parts of France and Spain as well as fears that such fires and early summer blasts of hot weather are becoming the norm in the continent. An ongoing drought in Italy has resulted in its longest river, the Po, drying up and has set off fears of food security in the country.

42% chance of failing at 1.5°C goal, even if all carbon emissions cease

A recent study showed that even if all emissions are “stopped overnight”, there’s a 42% chance of breaching the 1.5°C climate change goal. Just four years ago, the figure stood at 33%. The analysis also found that regardless of the short term direction that global emissions take, by 2032, the chance of busting the 1.5°C target will rise to 66%.

However, if emissions are cut rapidly,  the research shows that the Paris Agreement’s weaker goal of 2°C is still well within reach.  The probability of exceeding 2°C is at just 2% if we stopped emitting today, the research said. 

Interbasin and interhemispheric impacts of a collapsed Atlantic Overturning Circulation

A new study investigated the potential far-reaching impacts of a collapse in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Using a global climate model, the researchers show that “AMOC collapse can accelerate the Pacific trade winds and Walker circulation by leaving an excess of heat in the tropical South Atlantic”. Other impacts include “weakening of the Indian and South Atlantic subtropical highs and deepening of the Amundsen Sea Low”, the study adds. These findings have important implications for understanding the global climate response to ongoing greenhouse gas increases.

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