How Climate Change is Altering Indian Monsoon
Climate change is one of the most pressing global environmental issues today, and its effects on India and elsewhere are becoming increasingly apparent. One of the most visible impacts of climate change in India is the shifting monsoon season. The Indian monsoon season brings life-giving rains to a large portion of the country each year, so any changes to it can have serious implications for food security, water supplies, health and other aspects of life in India. In this article, we’ll explore how climate change is altering India’s beloved monsoons and what that could mean for India’s future.
What is Climate Change?
Climate change is the term used to describe long-term changes in global weather patterns due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests and intensive farming. These activities release large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, which trap heat from the sun’s rays, leading to a warming of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere. This phenomenon has been referred to as “global warming” or “climate disruption.”
The effects of climate change are already being felt around the world, with rising temperatures, more extreme weather events, melting glaciers and rising sea levels all contributing factors.
These gasses trap heat and cause average global temperatures to rise, resulting in a variety of environmental impacts, such as more frequent and intense storms, rising sea levels and extreme weather events.
In India specifically, these changes are having an increasingly visible impact on its monsoon season—the seasonal rains that bring life-giving water to much of the country.
Changes in Monsoon Patterns
Studies suggest that climate change could lead to changes in both the timing and intensity of monsoon rainfall across India. For instance, some areas are expected to experience more extreme rainfalls - as seen by an increase in short-term heavy rains - while others may see an overall decrease in precipitation.
Climate change is also causing changes in the timing of when the monsoon season begins and ends each year, with some areas experiencing later start dates or shorter seasons than usual. This can have serious implications for India's agricultural sector, as farmers rely on the monsoons to water their crops and are often unable to adjust to changes in timing.
The Indian monsoon is a seasonal phenomenon that brings rains to India from June through September every year. In recent years, however, changes in global climate have caused the monsoon season to become increasingly unpredictable and erratic. The rains come later than usual and are heavier and more intense in some places but weaker or missing entirely in others. This has resulted in floods in some parts of the country while causing drought conditions in others.
Climate change is also affecting other aspects of the Indian monsoons. Warmer temperatures cause atmospheric moisture to evaporate faster, resulting in less rain overall, even though the monsoon season may be longer. Moreover, the intensity of the rains differs from region to region due to changes in wind patterns and other factors.
What is the Current State of our Climate System?
The current monsoon patterns have been perplexing, in part because of the multifaceted range of variables that play a role in influencing rainfall variability. To better understand how climate change is affecting the Indian monsoon, we need to gain insight into the entire climate system and its components.
Recent data from NASA’s Earth-observing satellites have given us an unprecedented view of our changing planet, allowing us to track changes in global sea level, temperature, precipitation and other variables. These findings suggest that human activities are driving much of the climate change we are seeing today.
- Pre-monsoon heating over the Himalayan region is melting glaciers.
- The southward movement of most of the monsoon depressions and lows.
- Negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD).
- Abnormal warming of the East Indian Ocean.
- Persistence of intense La Nina conditions.
- The gaps between rainy days throughout the monsoon season have noticeably lengthened, making for an extended period of dryness.
- Incidents of localised heavy rainfall have increased.
- Since 1951, the rains have been decreasing in areas like the Western Ghats and Indo-Gangetic plains, resulting in a noticeable shift to monsoon patterns.
- South Asia has recently experienced a tumultuous weather pattern, with Bangladesh, India and Pakistan contending with intense flooding and China battling record-breaking drought conditions.
- Last year, the monsoon weather systems drastically shifted their course and are now predominantly affecting the central regions of our country. This change in the area has led to a drastic increase in rainfall across those areas.
- Last year, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and certain areas of Maharashtra experienced an abundance of rain.
- Consecutive active monsoon systems in the Bay of Bengal throughout July caused a surplus amount of precipitation, totalling 8%. Conversely, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar experienced deficient monsoon rains.
- Last year, summer monsoon rainfall presented large regional and temporal diversities. Each yearly event offers a special experience with its own unique characteristics.
- If current levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions persist, then climate models predict that global warming will cause monsoon rainfall to increase by 14% over the next century.
- Over the last 50 years, nearly 90% of human-generated excess energy has been captured by the global ocean. This accelerated heating has caused extreme rainfall events like those recently experienced in Maharashtra to become more frequent and severe.
- The Sea Surface Temperature (SST) plays an integral part in the monsoons. It has been established that there exists a powerful connection between SST and the wet season.
- The gradual decline of the land-sea temperature disparity will produce a decrease in monsoon circulation, leading to drier conditions. Simultaneously, due to the rising sea surface temperature (SST), moisture in the atmosphere has also been on the rise.
- Even though the monsoon circulation may be subdued, there are circumstantial occasions when powerful winds can bring copious moisture from the Arabian Sea that eventually falls over land as extreme rainfall.
How Climate Change Can Be Mitigated?
Climate change is a global concern that requires every one of us to make concerted efforts in order to mitigate its effects. There are several ways in which individuals and countries can help reduce the human impact on climate change – by reducing energy consumption, increasing renewable energy use, preserving natural resources and ecosystems, promoting conservation practices, and significantly reducing carbon emissions.
Raising awareness and education about climate change are essential steps to mitigate its effects. Governments, corporations, organizations, and individuals alike need to put efforts into educating the public on the importance of sustainable development in order to reduce carbon emissions and preserve natural resources.
In addition to reducing fossil fuel use and promoting renewable energy sources, governments should institute policies that promote low-carbon lifestyles by introducing incentives for adopting green technology, such as electric cars, solar panels, or wind turbines. Companies should also take responsibility for leading the way toward a greener economy by investing in technologies that have lower environmental impacts.
Finally, individuals can make changes in their daily lifestyle choices that can significantly reduce their carbon footprint. Reducing meat consumption, using public transportation instead of single occupancy vehicles, buying locally sourced produce, and switching to energy-efficient appliances are all great ways to reduce the impacts of climate change.
Climate change is a complex phenomenon that requires urgent action from governments, industries and individuals alike. Taking necessary steps towards reducing energy consumption and increasing renewable energy use can help mitigate its effects while simultaneously raising awareness and education about sustainable development practices can ensure we have a better future for generations to come.