Tuesday, January 18

Rapid Warming of Indian Ocean Cyclones Worsens, Scientists Say | Climate change

India’s cyclone season is intensifying due to the rapid warming of the Indian Ocean, the scientists warned.

Last week, India was hit by Cyclone Tauktae, an unusually strong cyclone in the Arabian Sea, causing widespread disruption. This week, another severe storm, Cyclone Yaas, formed in the Bay of Bengal, prompting more than a million people to be evacuated to safe havens.

The Indian subcontinent has faced the brunt of costly and deadly tropical cyclones for decades. But scientists say global warming is accelerating the rate of ocean warming, leading to increased numbers of cyclones and rapid intensification of weak storms, with serious repercussions for the country.

Cyclones are much more likely to intensify over warmer waters. The Arabian Sea, part of the western Indian Ocean, generally has a sea surface temperature below 28 ° C, and recorded only 93 cyclones between 1891 and 2000. By comparison, the warm Bay of Bengal in the eastern Indian Ocean, where temperatures are permanently above 28 ° C, recorded 350 cyclones during the same period.

Between 2001 and 2021, 28 cyclones formed in the Arabian Sea, along with a marked increase in the intensity of the storms, driven by rising sea surface temperatures that reached 31 ° C. Nature Study 2016 found that anthropogenic global warming had contributed to the increased frequency of extremely severe cyclonic storms over the Arabian Sea.

Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, said: “The entire Indian Ocean is warming at a faster rate compared to the Atlantic or Pacific. And within the Indian Ocean, the western parts of the Indian Ocean are getting much warmer. We see it [sea surface temperature rise] it is connecting well with changes in the intensity and frequency of cyclones, especially in the Arabian Sea and also with the rapid intensification. “

Rapid intensification of weak storms into severe cyclones has been observed in both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal in recent years. But current forecasting models do not show rapid escalation in advance, posing a major challenge for both disaster management authorities and the public in responding to risk appropriately, according to Koll.

“Climate projections show that the Arabian Sea will continue to warm at a faster rate than we have seen before, and there will be more extremely severe cyclones in the Arabian Sea,” he added.

India is especially vulnerable as 14% of its 1.3 billion inhabitants live in coastal districts, and the number living in coastal areas below 10 meters elevation is predicts it will triple by 2060.

“The trail of destruction left by Cyclone Tauktae is a sad reminder of India’s vulnerability to extreme weather events,” said Abinash Mohanty, program leader at the Indian think tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

Mohanty said the government should invest in an improved emergency response framework that takes into account the combined impacts of extreme events, a detailed climate risk assessment and climate protection of infrastructure.

Inland countries like Nepal can also be affected when strong Indian Ocean cyclones don’t dissipate after making landfall, causing excessive snowfall in the Himalayan highlands, said Arun Shrestha, a climate scientist at the International Center for Integrated Development of the Moutains. “The Everest snowstorm in 1995, Cyclone Phailin in 2013, and Cyclone Hudhud in 2014 are some examples of cyclones that impacted the Himalayas.”

Anomalous warming in the Indian Ocean It has also been linked to locust swarms, floods in Africa, Australian bushfires and changes in global rainfall patterns.


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