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.