Flooded mess: Mumbai, which has already clocked in the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, is now battling massive flooding because of incessant monsoon rain | Photo: Weather.com

Mumbai goes under as rain lashes India’s west coast

Rain lashed the western coast of India this fortnight, especially in Mumbai, which flooded quickly after continuous rain spells for 4-5 days. Next in line is neighbouring Gujarat as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued an ‘extremely heavy rain’ alert for India’s Saurashtra region. Several National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed in the state after the IMD alert. North India reported scattered rain across Delhi and its adjoining areas, although this, too, is expected to increase.

Monsoon has covered most parts of the country a week early, according to the IMD. The only states remaining so far are Haryana, parts of Rajasthan and Punjab. Rainfall has been 22% excess of the long-period average (LPA) till Wednesday.

While a robust monsoon is certainly welcome news for India, there has been a change in the rainfall pattern. While South India has recorded less rainfall this year, central India has received excess rainfall. According to India’s first climate change assessment report published by the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences on June 17, this change in pattern could be indicative of global warming. While monsoon arrival dates would remain largely the same, retreat dates are likely to get extended, leading to a longer monsoon season. This would make locust invasions a perennial problem for India, according to the report.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned India to remain on high alert against attacks for four weeks, prompting the government to deploy Bell helicopters and drones in India’s heartland states to control the spread.

Climate change leading to mass loss in two glaciers in Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh: Studies

Recent studies found climate change has had a significant impact on the glaciers in the western Himalaya region. The studies, conducted by Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) glaciology unit, monitored two glaciers — Chhota Shigri glacier in Himachal Pradesh and the Stok glacier in the Union Territory of Ladakh — and found glacier mass loss to be significantly higher in the beginning of the new millennium than it was at the end of the 20th century. The study linked this loss to rising temperatures and reduced snowfall. While the authors say the glaciers will not disappear any time soon, their negative mass balance will impact the availability of water for local communities.

Wildfires burn in Indonesia, Arctic as Brazil sees record fires for month of June

Forest fires continue to blaze across the world. The Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan declared a state of emergency after reporting 700 forest fires. The province will now see increased patrolling and early extinguishing efforts. The country’s forest fire patrolling team is already facing budget cuts with the COVID-19 pandemic, while Indonesia, which is the third-largest producer of palm oil, has already scaled back protection of its tropical forests.

In the Arctic, forest fires have worsened. A major fire is currently burning outside the town of Chersky, and is threatening to destroy a major power line as well as a park that was set up to recreate the subarctic steppe grassland ecosystem that flourished in the area during the last glacial period.

Brazil, meanwhile, recorded the highest number of Amazon fires – 2,278 – for the month of June since 2007, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) found. This number is much higher than the 1,880 fires detected by the INPE in June last year using satellite imagery.  

Globally warming waters could destroy reproduction process in 49% fish species: Study

The world’s oceans, rivers and lakes will be too hot for 40% of fish species in the spawning and embryonic stage by the end of the century thanks to climate change, according to a new study published in the journal Science. The study assumes significance because biologists have only focused on the impact warming waters have on adult fish so far. The study’s results mean that these species could either become extinct or will have to change the way they reproduce.