2018 – 6th Warmest Year on Record for India

According to India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) ‘Statement on climate change during 2018’ the average temperature over India during 2018 was significantly above normal and the year was the sixth warmest year since the commencement of nationwide record keeping in 1901.

During the year, annual mean land surface air temperature, averaged over the country, was +0.410 ०C above (1981-2010 period) average. The other five warmest years on record are: 2016 (+0.720 °C), 2009 (+0.560 °C), 2017 (+0.550 °C), 2010 (+0.540 °C), 2015 (+0.420 °C).

According to the statement during 2018 the winter temperature (January-February) was recorded +0.590 °C above long-term average temperature (winter anomaly) and the temperature during pre-monsoon (March-May) season was recorded +0.550 °C above the average (pre Monsoon anomaly)- contributed to this warming. ‘Mean temperature during the monsoon (anomaly of +0.260 °C) and post monsoon seasons (anomaly of +0.310 °C) were also above normal’.

 Rainfall Trends

 As per the statement – during 2018 the annual rainfall over the country was 85 % of Long Period (1951-2000) Average (LPA). During the South West monsoon season (June-September) which is  the principal rainy season the rainfall over the country was near normal (90.6 % of LPA) while during the northeast monsoon season (October-December) rainfall over the country as a whole was substantially below normal (56% of LPA). This was 6th lowest since 1901.

High Impact Weather Events and the loss of human lives

Report says that Uttar Pradesh was the most adversely affected state during the year and reported near 600 deaths due to cold waves, thunderstorm, dust storm, lightning and floods. Reportedly 800 people lost their lives in different parts of the country (viz. northern/northeastern, central & peninsular parts) because of heavy rains and floods during pre-monsoon, monsoon & post-monsoon seasons.

The two major extreme weather events that were noticed in 2018 were- floods in Kerala in August which is conventionally not flood prone and thunderstorms in northern states in May –June. About 166 people from UP and 75 from Jharkhand lost their lives because of thunderstorms (June-July) which was another major event of the year that shook the northeastern parts of the country. In addition dust storm claimed over 150 lives from Uttar Pradesh (92 lives, 2-6 May) and adjoining parts of Rajasthan (68 Lives, April-May).

During 2018, 7 cyclonic storms formed over the north Indian Ocean. Out of these 7 systems, 3 systems formed over the Arabian Sea did not have landfall over the Indian region. One cyclonic storm was formed over Bay of Bengal in monsoon season (September) and crossed north Andhra Pradesh-Odisha coast near Gopalpur on 20th September. The remaining three systems formed over the Bay of Bengal during the post monsoon season crossed Indian coast. The first system “Titli” crossed the Odisha coast on 11th October and claimed over 70 lives from coastal districts of Odisha, the second one “Gaja” crossed Tamil Nadu coast on 15th November claimed over 40 lives from coastal districts of Tamil Nadu. The last cyclonic storm of the year “Phethai”, crossed the Andhra Pradesh coast on 17th December.

Madhavan Rajeevan‏ @rajeevan61 Jan 15 tweeted

Major extreme weather events over country during 2018 and associated loss of life. 2018 was the sixth warmest year on record since nation-wide records commenced in 1901 Five warmest years on record in order were 2016 2009 2017 2010 2015, all recent years, ‘global warming’ here.

National Clean Air Programme Launched to Fight Air Pollution

On 10th January 2018, Government of India launched National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) which essentially will put in place mitigation actions for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution. The NCAP will be rolled out in 102 cities across India where the air quality standard is worse than the National Air Quality Standards.

The most polluted 102 cities have been identified based on the National Pollution Control Board’s National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme data for 2011-2015.

The programme sets a target of 20-30% reduction in the Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 & 10 concentration in the air by 2024 as compared to the base year 2017. However, the targets are not legally binding and there will be no penal actions against erring cities.

The programme was launched by Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan who called it a ‘war against pollution’.

The programme which mainly focuses on setting up air quality monitoring network across the country, strengthening the awareness and capacity building will cost 637 crores. The major cost for the implementation of city specific action plans is not included in this and will have to be majorly borne by the states. However NCAP allocates funds for extending source apportionment studies to 94 nonattainment cities so that science based city specific action plans can be made.

As per the programme document particulate matter pollution due to vehicles, industries, construction activities, diesel gensets, biomass burning and commercial and domestic use of  fuel etc. is a major challenge across the country and in the urban areas of the Indo Gangetic Plains.

It is noteworthy that World Health Organization in its 2018 database listed 14 Indian cities among the top 15 most polluted cities in the world.

NCAP will be implemented through ‘collaborative, multi-scale and cross-sectoral coordination between central ministries, state governments and local bodies’. It is being institutionalized through inter sectoral groups consisting of Ministry of Finance, Health, NITI Aayog and experts from different fields.

Greenland Ice Sheets are Melting From Below According to New Studies by NASA

According to the new studies carried out by NASA’ Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) campaign Greenland Ice Sheets are Melting From Below.

The interesting knowledge about the Greenland’s ice structures and its melting is being generated by NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) campaign. It’s a five year long mission started in 2015.

Ocean Melting Greenland (OMG) Campaign to Enhance the Knowledge on Melting of Greenland Ice Sheets

Greenland’s coastline is 27,000-miles long. The OMG campaign studies the glaciers and ocean along the coastline. The aim of the campaign is to know where and how fast the seawater is melting the glacial ice.

Both boats and aeroplanes are being used for the OMG campaign. Through the coastal channels the warm salty water of the Atlantic ocean reaches inside and melts ice sheets. The campaign is trying to make high resolution maps of the Greenland’s coast and pathways to get the detailed picture.

NASA’s G3 research plane is being used in the campaign. With the help of the sensors it reveals the temperature and salinity of the ocean up to the depth of 3000 feet. With the help of the GLISTIN radar it reveals the thinning and retreat of the glaciers from the below. These observations will help in bringing accuracy in the sea level rise projections.

As per the information provided by NASA referring two recent research publications that used OMG data, an understanding is being developed onhow glaciers and ocean currents are interacting along Greenland’s west coast.

The OMG campaign is also helping towards improvement on seafloor maps used to predict future melting and subsequent sea level rise.

Few very interesting observations have come out from this campaign. According to the observations the sea water that surrounds the Greenland consists of two layers. The topmost layer is around ~600 feet deep. This layer contains relatively fresh cold water coming from the arctic while the layer below is salty & around 3 to 4 degrees Celsius warmer than the top layer. It is also saltier than the upper layer.

This subsurface layer is formed by the oceanic water coming from the south. The top layer weighs way less than the saltwater layer and therefore the two layers don’t mix much. Together it appears as if there is a cold fresh water river flowing above the warm salty ocean.

There are many coastal glaciers in Greenland. The interaction between the glaciers and the circulating water decides the rate of the ice melt.

The data gathered from the OMG observations reveal that if the sea shore in front of the coastal glaciers is shallow glaciers interact only with the top frigid freshwater. This reduces the rate of ice melt. Contrary, if the seafloor in front of the glaciers is deep, the warm subsurface layers melt the glaciers relatively rapidly from below.

These are the initial findings. Once the refined sea floor maps become available lot many interesting happening will reveal themselves.

Why the knowledge about the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheets is important?

Greenland is the world’s largest island. Thick ice sheets cover 80% of the area of Greenland. More precisely 1,710,000 square kilometers area of Greenland is ice sheet covered. In most of the places the ice sheet is as thick as 2 km while it is ~3 km thick in the thickest areas.

Total 90% of the ice present in the earth is present as ice sheet in Antarctica and Greenland. As an estimate, the fresh water present as ice sheets in Greenland is so much that if all of it gets melted, it would lead to the rise in the oceans by more than 20 feet. But the relief is that it is not going to happen soon.

But the scientists are unanimously of the opinion that if it continues to melt at the present rate, by the end of this century it will lead to the sea level rise by 6-8 feet. The possible causes of the increased rate of Greenland ice sheets melting are rise in the sea and land temperatures, changing weather patterns etc.

The predicted sea level rise will have impacts on lives and livelihoods of billions of people live in the low land areas. Hence the melting of Greenland ice sheets is a phenomenon the scientists are keen to know more and more about.

Climate governance

The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, starting in the year 2020.

Implementation SDG

 September 2015, the General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”, the new Agenda emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all.

Roof top solar

The scheme, part of the larger grid-connected Rooftop Solar (RTS) power programme, aims to bring discoms to the forefront in the implementation of rooftop solar projects by providing them financial support which will be linked to their performance in facilitating the deployment of RTS.

water cycle is undergoing change

With climate change, the water cycle is expected to undergo significant change. For example, a warmer climate causes more water to evaporate from both land and oceans; in turn, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water – roughly four percent more water for every 1ºF rise in temperature

ocean biodiversity

The researchers said on Wednesday they plan to grow coral larvae from the harvested eggs and return these to areas of the reef which have been badly damaged by climate-related coral bleaching.