HomePOPULARUrgency of Tackling Erratic Monsoons and Climate Change in India

Urgency of Tackling Erratic Monsoons and Climate Change in India

India’s monsoon season is approaching amid a heatwave, with the India Meteorological Department predicting “above normal” rainfall. The monsoon, critical for agriculture and water supply, has become increasingly erratic due to climate change, impacting the economy and livelihoods.

Dissecting 40 Years of Rainfall Data

As a data scientist, I have analyzed four decades of rainfall data across more than 4,500 Indian tehsils. Our research at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) shows significant changes in monsoon patterns, affecting local preparedness. For instance, historically arid states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, and central Maharashtra have seen a 10-30% increase in southwest monsoon rains in the past decade. Conversely, around 11% of tehsils, particularly in the Indo-Gangetic plains and the Indian Himalayan region, have experienced a decrease of more than 10%.

Building Resilience Policy and Research Recommendations

To combat these challenges, we propose the following strategies:

India’s vast climatic diversity requires localized climate action plans. All 766 districts should assess climate risks and develop tailored mitigation and adaptation strategies. These plans should include crop insurance, power supply management, and groundwater quality improvement. Thane’s risk-informed heat action plan, supported by CEEW, serves as a model for other regions.

Agriculture, employing the largest workforce and contributing 18% to GDP, needs robust support. Government responses should extend beyond relief and compensation to enhancing farmers’ resilience. This includes adjusting crop growth phases, using climate-resilient seeds, and updating crop calendars based on shifting monsoon patterns. States like Assam are already working with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research to revise these calendars.

Detailed studies on monsoon variability are essential. Adaptation strategies should be based on shorter-term climate projections rather than distant future estimates. Automated weather stations and community-science initiatives should collect more local data. For example, Kerala’s public schools are using weather stations to record microclimate data.

Conclusion

The Indian government must prioritize combating erratic monsoons and climate-proofing the economy. Lessons from India can guide other global south countries facing extreme rainfall and floods, from Afghanistan to Kenya, Brazil, and Indonesia. By integrating high-quality research, granular risk assessments, and robust policy actions, India can build resilience against the worsening impacts of climate change and secure a sustainable future for its people and economy.

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Reference: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-024-01517-3

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