Thursday, October 22, 2009
Climate change is having, and will continue to have strong, differential effects on people within and between countries and regions, for the present and future generations. Bangladesh is one of the worst affected among the countries that are facing the early impact of climate change said International Chamber of Commerce-Bangladesh (ICCB), The World Business Organisation in the Editorial of its Quarterly News Bulletin released on 18th October.
The United Nations warns that a quarter of Bangladesh's coastline could be inundated, and about 17% of the land mass go under water, if the sea rises 3 feet in the next 50 years; roughly 30 million Bangladeshis will be displaced from their homes and farms, making them "climate refugees".
According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) after the 2030s, river flows could drop dramatically, turning the great glacier-fed rivers of Asia into seasonal monsoon-fed rivers.
As a result, water shortages in Asia could affect more than a billion people by the 2050s. The impact of higher temperatures, more variable precipitation, extreme weather events (including intense floods, droughts, and storms) and sea level rise are already felt in Bangladesh and will continue to intensify.
A study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) reveals that if the current trends persist until 2050, the||crop production in South Asia would decline significantly and melting Himalayan glaciers and other climate change impacts will pose a direct threat to the water and food security of more than 1.6 billion people in South Asia.
There are predictions that globally harvests may drop 20 to 40 per cent by the end of this century as a result of global warming.
New research, by economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), finds that in years with higher temperatures, poor countries would experience significantly slower economic growth. The results further suggest that global warming could widen the gap between rich and the poor.
According to latest estimates, "annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution" in Bangladesh is 0.9 as against 2.2 in India, 5.5 in China, 11 in Europe, 27 in US, 30 in Australia, and 6.7 in the world.
The people of Bangladesh are suffering the harsh effects of climate change, even though we are responsible for only one-.fifth of one per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Particularly since the industrial revolution, countries that are now developed have been profligate in their use of fossil-fuel energy for development; the GHGs they have emitted have created the problem we currently face. Now, as our countries want to develop, we face innumerable problems that are the direct consequences of the actions of others. Our industrial development will be much more expensive than it has been for countries that have developed earlier The way out of global warming is not easy, assuming we are not already too late. It will cost between $500 and $600 billion annually to enable poor developing states to shift to renewable energy resources instead of relying on fuels that worsen global warming, according to a United Nations report released on September 1, 2009. Technology is available for cost-effective environment friendly production processes in developed countries; equally important will be the life-style changes in the developed countries, to reduce their emissions of GHGs.
To recoup the current climate-change related losses, Bangladesh has sought $500 million on an urgent basis as financial assistance from the UN and developed countries. In addition, we have presented the country paper to the- UN seeking a further $5 billion as compensation for next five years.
We praise the timely initiative. However, Bangladesh must participate effectively and raise the compensation issue in the negotiations leading to the In-nation UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen during December 09. The developed countries have the responsibility to cut their emissions to sustainable levels, and at the same time help us overcome the consequences of their actions.
The Northeast monsoon is not expected to hit Tamil Nadu on its usual date of October 20, but the Met office isn't pressing the panic button.
According to S R Ramanan, Director, Regional Meteorological Centre, Chennai, "The monsoon is not expected for the next 72 hours. We cannot yet say it is delayed… There is generally a standard deviation of seven days."
Environmentalist Jaishree from Care, an NGO, says that over the years there has been a slight shift in the setting of seasons, which needs to be studied. "It could be due to a variety of reasons; it is difficult to establish the exact cause. What is needed is an in depth research into the trend, as various studies have shown that one of the effects of climate change would be a shift in the seasons," she says. The impact of environmental conditions on seasons is poorly understood. There is no data to explain the cause of the erratic monsoon, she says.
S Raghavan, retired Deputy Director General of the Meteorology Department, points out that there have been cases of the monsoon setting in November or even as early as the first week of October. The Northeast monsoon can set in only when the Southwest monsoon withdraws completely, he says.
"Slight variations are on expected lines because of environmental degradation over the years," he says.
What is worrying is that there is absolutely no advance preparation by the government to tackle problems that could arise if the monsoon is delayed. The minimum the government could do ahead of the monsoon is to store water and recharge the groundwater aquifers, he suggested.
"I don't think greenhouse gas emissions are the only reason for the monsoon's erratic behaviour. Over the years, there has been a slight change here and there, but then climate conditions have always been unpredictable," he says.
It should have been raining in the city on Tuesday, instead it turned out to be scorching day, with the day temperature touching 35. 2
degrees Celsius, four degrees above the monthly average of 31. 4 degrees. With the north-east monsoon failing to arrive on schedule (October 20), it has been a consistently hot October till date, with every day recording above normal day temperature. The mercury even touched 37 degrees on three days this month.
The easterly winds, which are a prelude to the onset of the monsoon, set in on October 12. Normally, rains follow within five days. However, apart from rains in districts such as Ramanathapuram and Vedaranyam, most parts of the state continue to be without rains. Meteorological officials say the monsoon is at least three days away, while charts based on satellite pictures indicate lack of rainfall activity even on October 24. Global weather charts also indicate that Chennai is likely to receive around 6 .2 mm of rainfall, as against the monthly average of 40 mm.
Meanwhile, Metrowater officials say there is nothing to worry on the water front. "The current storage poistion in our lakes is comfortable, and once the rains come, we will have enough till the middle of next year," an official said. The combined storage in the lakes as on Tuesday stood at 2,823 mcft. Poondi lake has1209 mcft, Cholavaram 188 mcft, Red Hills 1,056 mcft and Chembarambakkam 370 mcft.
A delay of up to eight days in the arrival of the monsoon is considered a standard deviation, said Y E Raj, deputy director general, Regional Meteorological Centre. In the last ten years, the monsoon has arrived in November only once (November 5, 2000), and in 2007, it arrived on October 22. In all the other years, the monsoon set in ahead of schedule. Last year it arrived five days ahead. The city so far faces a 99% deficiency of rainfall for the month. The average rainfall for the season (October 1 to December 31) is 860 mm. "The actual deficiency so far for the month is around 80 mm, and one good spell will wipe this out. Last year, heavy rains occured only after November 15," said Raj. The north-east monsoon is also a season when cyclonic storms that bring in more rain can be expected, he added.
Meanwhile, Chennaiites continue to sweat over the weather. "I was out on work at noon, and the heat was unbearable," said Arjun R, a communications expert. The discomfort continued through the day, with lack of breeze in the last few days. "From August the weather turns breezy at least from the early evening, but this year you feel as though it is still summer," said N Subash, employed in a government office.
It's been around four days now since the North-East monsoon set in. The direction of the wind has also changed. But the usual October
rain in the city might be delayed by another week! This apart, climate experts also predict less rainfall for the month this year.
Explaining the trend ahead, M B Raje Gowda, professor of agro-meteorology, University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) said: "Though the direction of the wind has changed, no clouds have as yet formed in the Bay of Bengal to lead towards the North-East direction. So, this might delay the October rain in Bangalore by another week. The `above-average' rainfall during September has also resulted in the formation of a high pressure island in this region. This could have also caused a delay in cloud formation.''
Bangalore has always got a good share of rainfall during October, starting from the second week. Up to 200 mm of rainfall is normal for the entire month. Looking back, we had 175 mm in 1990. Post this, the average rainfall for the month has been on a steady rise, going even up to 225 mm. Last year, it was 208 mm. However, the delay in cloud formation might leave us with less rainfall this year.
The next window for the North-East monsoon over the Bay of Bengal and adjoining peninsula is likely to open up during October 27 to November 4 in what is an unusually delayed onset this season.
The US National Centres for Environmental Prediction sees the south-central and adjoining south Bay of Bengal and peninsular India being brought under wet cover during this period.
This outlook is more or less corroborated by the Climate Prediction Centre (CPC) of the US National Weather Services, which said that the Bay would emerge out of the grip of a suppressed convection (dry) phase of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) wave.
Stage for the launch
According to the CPC, the dry phase of the MJO will exit the Bay of Bengal by October 27, setting the stage for the north-east monsoon to launch itself over the Bay.
Simultaneously, south China, Taiwan and the Philippines are forecast to get smothered by waves of rainfall unleashed by Super Typhoon Lupit, which is seen making a landfall over the Philippines by Thursday.
The CPC attributes the delay in the onset of the northeast monsoon to this phase of the MJO wave, which triggers dry weather over the region under its footprint.
The MJO wave is an upper-level phenomenon travelling periodically east across the Indian Ocean with alternating wet and dry phases. The wet phase sets up excess rainfall, onset of monsoons, low-pressures areas and even cyclones.
Meanwhile, Super Typhoon Lupit will weaken after landfall and will slip off the Philippine archipelago to emerge into the South China Sea. Here, it will go more rounds of intensification while continuing to travel straight into west.
NEW SUPER TYPHOON
This track will take Lupit for a brush-past with Taiwan and Hong Kong before it barrels into the south China-Vietnam region for a roaring landfall and subsequent weakening.
This too is expected to happen around October 27, another reason why the nearly contiguous Bay of Bengal should be able to breathe free to get the northeast monsoon going.
Meanwhile, India Met Department satellite pictures showed cloud build up along the equator and a northwest-to-southeast banding of clouds over northeast Bay of Bengal. These patterns were being attributed to the `pull' effect of Super Typhoon Lupit.
An IMD update on Tuesday said that the remnant south-west monsoon was subdued over Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland-Manipur-Mizoram-Tripura, West Bengal, Sikkim, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.
The withdrawal line dipped into the peninsula as Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Vidarbha, central Maharashtra, Marathawada, Konkan, entire West Bengal, Sikkim, Orissa, the North-Eastern States, parts of Telangana, north interior Karnataka and Goa were declared cleared of southwest monsoon.
Maximum temperatures were above normal by 2 to 5 deg Celsius over peninsular India and by 2 to 3 deg Celsius over parts of central and east India. They were near normal over the rest of the country.
Minimum temperatures were below normal by 2 to 5 deg Celsius over parts of east and adjoining central India, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
No significant change in maximum and minimum temperatures is likely during next two to three days, the IMD said. Satellite pictures on Tuesday showed convective clouds over parts of Andaman Sea.
Outlook for the three days ending October 25 suggested isolated to scattered rain or thundershowers activity over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.