J&K floods a grim reminder of increasing climate change impact in India: CSE

September 15, 2014

Climate models predict that India will be hit more and more by extreme rainfall events

New Delhi, September 10, 2014: As Jammu and Kashmir continues to reel under its worst floods in 60 years, which have stranded over 6 lakh people and killed about 200, the attention is slowly veering towards the reasons and causes behind this unprecedented natural disaster. An analysis by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) suggests that this could very well be another manifestation of an extreme weather event – induced by a changing climate.

“The Kashmir floods are a grim reminder that climate change is now hitting India harder. In the last 10 years, several extreme rainfall events have rocked the country, and this is the latest calamity in that series,” said Chandra Bhushan, CSE deputy director general and the head of its climate change team.

CSE researchers have compiled a list of such extreme events – these include the Mumbai floods of 2005, the Leh cloudburst of 2010 and the Uttarakhand floods of 2013. In each of these disasters, thousands have died and the economic losses incurred have run into thousands of crores of rupees.   

As was the case with some of the previous extreme rainfall events, the scale of disaster in J&K has been exacerbated by unplanned development – especially on the riverbanks. In the last 100 years, more than 50 per cent of the lakes, ponds and wetlands of Srinagar have been encroached upon for constructing buildings and roads. The banks of the Jhelum river have been taken over in a similar manner, vastly reducing the river’s drainage capacity. Naturally, these areas have suffered the most.    

The tragedy in J&K, says Chandra Bhushan, is that the state has not been prepared to handle such extreme rainfall events. In fact, J&K does not have a flood forecasting system. Its disaster management system is also rudimentary.

The climate connect

Heavy and very heavy rainfall events in India has increased over the past 50-60 years. A study done by B. N. Goswami of Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, shows that between 1950 and 2000, the incidence of heavy rainfall events (> 100 mm/day) and very heavy events (>150 mm/day) have increased and moderate events (5-100 mm/day) have decreased.

Most climate models also predict that India will be hit more and more by extreme rainfall events as the world continues to warm in the coming decades.

According to the latest analysis by the Working Group II of the IPCC Assessment Report (AR5), floods and droughts are likely to increase in India. India will get more rainfall but in lesser number of rainy days. Increase in extreme precipitation during monsoons is also predicted.

The IPCC’s 2011 Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation – abbreviated as the SREX report – presents projections for the period 2071-2100. It points to increasing incidents of more frequent and intense heavy precipitation over most regions.

What, then, should India do? Sunita Narain, director general of CSE, says: To begin with, the Indian government must discard its ostrich-like policy and get out of its denial mode. We will have to see the linkages between climate change and the events such as those unfolding in J&K. We will have to accept that climate change is going to affect us more and more in the future. We will, therefore, have to start preparing to adapt to the changing climate.”  

India should start internalising   climate change adaptation in all developmental policies and programme. From building of cities infrastructure to agriculture and from water supply to energy infrastructure, we will have make changes to incorporate climate change impacts, says Narain. 

Chandra Bhushan adds: “India will also have to proactively work with other countries to reduce emissions to control the warming of the planet. Most studies show that India is one of the most vulnerable countries. A warmer planet will affect India severely – and its poor would be the worst impacted.”

For more information on the subject, please visit the Down To Earth website: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/

 

Presentation
Mumbai, Leh, Uttarakhand & now J&K: Is climate change causing these extreme rainfall events?

By: Chandra Bhushan

 
Media Clippings
How The Monsoon Has Changed

Sunita Narain|Business standard|Sept.13, 2014

India will face more Jammu & Kashmir floods-like calamities in future, warn researchers

Romita Saluja, News18, September 12, 2014

Wake of the flood

Livemint|Sept.12, 2014

J&K floods - Natural tragedy or man-made disaster?

News Nation|Sept.12, 2014

Climate change may have caused Kashmir floods: CSE

IANS| Sept.|11, 2014

Jammu and Kashmir govt was deaf to flood alert

Mail Today|Sept.11, 2014

Centre finally wakes up and decides to study extreme weather events after Kashmir floods

Mayank Aggarwal|DNA|Sept. 11 2014

Why Jammu and Kashmir is Battling Its Worst Flood in 100 Years

Sidharth Pandey|NDTV|Sept. 10, 2014

Scientists see gaps in forecast system

The Telegraph|Sept. 11 , 2014

Floods and droughts to increase in India Akash Vashishtha,

Mail Today|New Delhi|Sept. 11, 2014

Climate change may have caused floods: CSE

The Peninsula (Qatar)|Sept. 11, 2014

Kashmir floods may be an effect of climate change

Juhi Chaudhary|India Climate Dialogue|Sept. 11, 2014

Climate change may have caused Kashmir floods: CSE

IANS|Sept. 11, 2014

Kashmir Floods: How an Ignored Warning Cost 200 Lives, Forced Repeat of Uttarakhand Floods

International Business Times|11/09/2014

Climate change may have caused Kashmir floods: CSE

Kashmir Times |Jammu|Sept. 11, 2014

Climate change may have caused Kashmir floods: Centre for Science and Environment

India.com|Sept.11, 2014

J&K floods, a grim reminder of climate change Meena Menon

Hindu|Delhi|Sept.11, 2014

Inundaciones dejan más de 450 muertos en India y Pakistán

EL Universal|Spain|Sept.11, 2014

Floods in Pakistan, India blamed on lack of planning, climate change

Business Recorder|Pakistan|Sept.11, 2014

J&K floods: Development planning, drainage system blamed

BS|Delhi|Sept. 11, 2014

'Unprecedented rains, unplanned urbanisation behind JK floods'

Zee News|Sept. 11, 2014

Tempers flare as mass flood evacuations begin in Kashmir after 450 people killed

Sydney Morning Herald|Sept. 11, 2014

Floods in India, Pakistan blamed on lack of planning, climate change

Saudi Press Agency|Sept. 11, 2014

Warum der Monsun zur Todesfalle wird

Proplanta|Germany|Sept.11, 2014

Floods a reminder of climate change impact

Tribune|New Delhi|Sept.11, 2014

Jammu & Kashmir government ignored deluge of flood warning

Mail Today Bureau|Sept.11, 2014

Kashmir monsoon floods leave 460 dead and displace almost a million

The Guardian|Sept.11, 2014

Tempers flare as mass flood evacuations begin

The Morung Express|Sept.10, 2014

Tempers flare as mass flood evacuations begin in Kashmir

Reuters|Sept.10, 2014

J&K floods due to unprecedented rains, unplanned urbanisation: CSE

Firstpost|Sept.10,2014

J&K floods a grim reminder of increasing climate change impact in India: Centre for Science and Environment

Vishwa Mohan|TNN|Sept. 10, 2014

Climate change may have caused Kashmir floods: Sunita Narayan

Odisha Sun Times, September 10, 2014

'Unprecedented Rains, Unplanned Urbanisation Reasons Behind J&K floods'

Outlook|Sept.10, 2014

'Unprecedented rains, unplanned urbanisation behind Jammu and Kashmir floods'

The Economic Times (PTI)|Sept.10, 2014

'Unprecedented rains, unplanned urbanisation behind JK floods'

Zee News (PTI)|Sept.10, 2014

'Unprecedented rains, unplanned urbanisation behind J&K floods'

Ibnlive (PTI)|Sept.10, 2014

After PM Modi says no climate change, CSE says it may have caused Kashmir floods

Samay Live|Sept.10, 2014

Climate change may have caused Kashmir floods: Centre for Science and Environment

IANS|Sept.10, 2014

A deluge of warnings ignored: J&K Flood Control Department predicted Srinagar floods four years ago... So why was nothing done?

Mail Today Bureau|Sept.10, 2014

Kashmir’s epic floods link India and Pakistan in disaster

Washington Post|Sept.8, 2014