Climate Atlas of India

A new report by the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) has analyzed the changes in the observed and future climate in India at the district level. The report, titled "Climate Atlas of India: District-Level Analysis of Historical and Projected Climate Change Scenarios," examined 723 districts in 28 states in India, excluding Union territories.

Historical Trends in Temperature and Rainfall:

  • The report presents historical trends in summer (March to May) maximum and winter (December to February) minimum temperatures from 1990 to 2019, as well as Kharif (June to September) season rainfall during the same period.
  • The CSTEP report found that summers and winters in India have become warmer over the last three decades, and this trend is expected to continue as the effects of climate change become more pronounced. The report also found that the Kharif season rainfall is expected to increase in the future.

District-Level Temperature Analysis:

  • The report analyzed temperature trends at the district level and found that all districts in India experienced an increase in both summer maximum and winter minimum temperatures from 1990 to 2019. A warming of up to 0.5 degrees Celsius was recorded in 70% of the districts for the maximum summer temperature.
  • In addition, the number of severe heatwaves or days with temperatures significantly above normal has increased and is expected to continue rising. The highest warming of 0.5 to 0.9 degrees Celsius was recorded in the districts of the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and the northeastern states.
  • The winter minimum temperature also increased by 0.5 degrees Celsius in all districts, with higher warming recorded in the northern states compared to the southern states.
  • The highest winter warming of 0.5 to 0.9 degrees Celsius was recorded in 54% of the districts in India, including those in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar; the western states of Rajasthan and Gujarat; and the northeastern states.

Rainfall Trends During the Kharif Season:

  • The report also found that there has been an increasing trend in rainfall during the Kharif season (June to September) across all districts in India. Overall, an increase in rainfall of up to 15% was recorded during this season.
  • The highest increase in rainfall, by 10% to 15%, was recorded in the northeastern districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Meghalaya, as well as in the northern districts of Nagaland and the Western Ghats districts in southern India.

Projections for the Future:

  • The CSTEP report also presented projections for the future under two different climate scenarios: RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5. RCP 4.5 is a moderate scenario in which emissions peak around 2040 and then decline, while RCP 8.5 is a high-emissions scenario in which emissions continue to rise throughout the 21st century.

Future Trends in Temperature and Rainfall:

  • Under both scenarios, the report projects a summer warming of 1 to 2.5 degrees Celsius for a majority of the districts compared to the historical period. For winters, a warming of more than 1 degree Celsius is projected for a majority of the districts under both scenarios.
  • In terms of rainfall, the report projects an increase in the Kharif season relative to the historical period of 25% to 35% in 2% of the districts, 15% to 25% in 18% of the districts, 10% to 15% in 35% of the districts, and less than 10% for the rest.

The CSTEP report provides a detailed analysis of the changes in temperature and rainfall that have occurred in India at the district level over the past three decades, as well as projections for the future under different climate scenarios. The findings of the report highlight the significant impact that climate change is having on India, with warming trends observed in both summer and winter and an expected increase in Kharif season rainfall. These trends are likely to have significant consequences for the country, including increased heatwaves and extreme weather events, and will likely require adaptation measures to be implemented in order to mitigate their impacts. It is important for policy makers to carefully consider the findings of this report and take appropriate action to address the challenges posed by a changing climate.


Written by IAS POINT

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