According to a recent study, the Parachik glacier in Ladakh has been retreating quickly, averaging 20 metres per year between 2015-2021 after previously retreating at an average of two metres per year between 1971-1999. This can make the area more susceptible to flash floods. Additionally, because glaciers are rapidly retreating, problems with water scarcity may get worse. The Suru river, a vital source for Ladakh’s Kargil district, receives its water from the 53 sq km Parachik glacier in the Zanskar peaks. Consistent ice-collapsing occurrences and glacial retreat are among the alarming symptoms of the glacier’s degeneration that have been observed.
Monsoon entering weaker phase, following months to be drier than usual: IMD
The India Meteorological Department has said that the south-west monsoon has entered a weak phase after 5% excess precipitation in July marked by extreme rainfall in some areas including Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and the northern plains. Central and peninsular India is now likely to experience subdued rain. IMD also acknowledged El Nino conditions setting in, impacting the monsoon. While a rainy July in monsoon 2023 led to floods and flash floods in several states, the next two months may be drier than normal for most of the country. Most parts of southern and many parts of western, north west and central India may receive below normal rainfall in these two months. This could worsen the existing deficit in states like Bihar where many regions are facing severe water shortages and the groundwater levels of 10 out of 38 districts in the state have sunk excessively.
Scientists ‘virtually certain’ that extreme Antarctic events will get worse, need drastic action
According to a recent assessment, future catastrophic occurrences in Antarctica are “virtually certain” to be worse than the changes already seen. In addition to recent extremes such record low sea ice levels, the loss of ice shelves, and surface temperatures up to 38.5C above average over East Antarctica in 2022—the world’s largest ever recorded heatwave—the study compiles evidence on the fragility of Antarctic systems. A new record for sea ice extent was set in July of this year, three times farther from the average than what had previously been witnessed. In July 2022, sea ice extent reached a record low for that time of year. According to one of the study’s authors, the rate of land-ice loss “matches the IPCC’s worst case”. The observations, according to the authors, demonstrate that we are headed in the direction of the most extreme scenario. The study said that it is “virtually certain” that future Antarctic extreme events will be more pronounced than those observed to date.
Ocean warming breaking records, severe implications underway
The EU’s climate change service Copernicus said that the average daily global sea surface temperature earlier this month beat a 2016 record, reaching 20.96°C— far above the average for this time of year, the BBC reported. This followed a series of marine heatwaves this year including in the UK, the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Mexico. Last month, sea surface temperatures in Florida reached a hot tub-like 38.44 °C. Normally, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), temperatures should range between 23°C and 31°C.
Oceans generate half of the oxygen on Earth, absorb heat, and control weather patterns. Since carbon dioxide cannot be as easily absorbed by warmer waters, more of the planet-warming gas will remain in the atmosphere. Additionally, it may hasten the melting of glaciers that melt into the ocean, causing the sea level to rise even faster.
Floods wreck China’s leading grain-producing region, food insecurity feared
According to the state-run media in China, flash floods have led to the evacuation of about 18,000 people from Shulan, China’s leading grain-producing region in the northeast. Further north in the neighbouring province of Heilongjiang, rivers that irrigate its fertile farmlands have overflowed, submerging rice fields, destroying vegetable greenhouses and damaging factories, the channel added. This questions the state of food security in the region as major food production hubs are underwater. A researcher told Bloomberg that China’s “sponge city” strategy, which uses rooftop gardens, permeable pavements, and other sponge-like features to soak up heavy precipitation – ignores the extreme events and disasters like the flash flood.