Unprecedented: As a heatwave grips the Pacific north-west, parts of the US and Canada, which seldom see the mercury edge past 30°C, have recorded temperatures above 45°C | Photo: Reuters

Southwest monsoon progress slow in north India; reservoirs only at 1/3rd capacity

India’s monsoon season is seeing a bit of a lull as its progress across the country continues to be slow. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) stated that while the northern limit of the southwest monsoon continued to pass through parts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, the lack of favourable conditions means it isn’t likely to advance to the remaining parts of the states in the next 6-7 days. The IMD predicted subdued rainfall over northwest, west and central India in the coming days. 

In the first three weeks of June, a majority of the country reported normal and above normal rainfall, according to the IMD. The eight northeastern states, however, reported a rainfall deficit. Arunachal Pradesh was on the top of this list with a 60% rainfall deficit. Other regions to report a rainfall deficit include Lakshadweep, Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch.   

India’s reservoirs are only at a third of their capacity because of the slow progress of the southwest monsoon. While the current overall storage is less than what it was this time last year, it is still better than the 10-year average for the same period, Down To Earth reported. 

Deadly heatwave affects 50 million Americans; UN calls drought “next pandemic”

A “deadly” heatwave is currently underway in the Pacific north-west and affecting nearly 50 million people. The states of California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah have issued heat warnings and advisories. Western Canada also issued similar warnings. Salt Lake City hit a record-breaking 107°F (42°C) only for the second time in the past 147 years. Portland, Oregon recorded its highest temperature ever (46.1°C). The regions are bracing for massive wildfires as a result of the heatwave, which is also exacerbating a historic drought. The heatwave is being called a “heat dome”. This occurs when the hot ocean air is trapped by the atmosphere like a lid or cap. It is triggered because of a strong gradient (change) in ocean temperatures. This gradient causes warm air that is heated by the ocean surface to rise above the water. Prevailing winds move this air towards the land, where it sinks and causes a heatwave. This phenomenon usually lasts a week, according to scientists.   

The United Nations (UN), meanwhile, said droughts are becoming a hidden global crisis and risk becoming the “next pandemic” if urgent steps towards water and land management are not taken. According to a report it published last week, at least 1.5 billion people have been affected by drought in the past century and the economic cost has roughly been $124 billion in that time. The “true cost”, however, is likely to be much higher because the estimates don’t take into account the impact of droughts in developing countries, the report said. 

Europe underreported methane emissions, data reveals

Is Europe underreporting its methane emissions? Campaigners used infrared cameras to discover more than 120 examples of methane leaks from oil and gas firms in seven European countries. US-based think-tank Clean Air Task Force (CATF) gathered the data from Hungary, Germany, Italy, Romania, Czech Republic, Poland and Austria. The data is concerning because methane has a global warming impact that is 84 times higher than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.  

Datasets underestimating deforestation-related emissions in Brazil: Study

Data, including that released by the UN, is most likely underestimating the level of deforestation-related emissions in Brazil, a new study published in Environmental Research Letters found. Apart from studying several data sets of land use in the country, and calculating the emissions from land-use change, the study also introduced remote-sensing data in the research. This helped the researchers to reproduce land-use change patterns more accurately, and increased the upper bound of emissions by nearly 70%.
In a separate study published in the journal Nature, remote sensing data helped researchers conclude that Russian forests sequester substantially more carbon than previously reported. The study found that the amount of carbon sequestered since the late 1980s may be 50% more than what is currently public knowledge. Russia’s forests, therefore, could play a vital role in carbon sequestration as the world continues to lose its tropical forests at the same magnitude, the study concluded.

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