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Accounting for seasonal variations in the Indian monsoons, examine how climate change is impacting the monsoon patterns across the subcontinent. What steps are needed to mitigate such impact? (250 words)

Topic: geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

 

2. Accounting for seasonal variations in the Indian monsoons, examine how climate change is impacting the monsoon patterns across the subcontinent. What steps are needed to mitigate such impact? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Down to Earth

Why the question:

Monsoon in India and west Africa — the most significant monsoon rainfall systems — may be in for changes due to greenhouse gases, new research has warned. The changes may be rapid or gradual in the present as well as near future.

Key Demand of the question:

Bring out the seasonal variations in the monsoon and to analyse the impact of climate change on it and suggest steps to mitigate it.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by introducing Indian monsoon and its importance briefly.

Body:

Start by briefly mentioning about mechanism of the monsoon and the reasons for fluctuations in Indian monsoon according to the seasons. Divide the answer in to various months and how monsoon varies with it. Use a diagram to explain it more systematically. Do include the Western Disturbances, Somali Jet Streams, Easterly Jet streams etc.

In the next part, write about the impact of climate change on monsoon rains. Mention the ways how it patterns are changing and its effect.

Next, write about long term and short-term measures required to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change on monsoon.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Monsoons are seasonal winds which reverse their direction with the change of season. The monsoon is a double system of seasonal winds. They flow from sea to land during the summer and from land to sea during winter. Monsoons are peculiar to Indian Subcontinent, South East Asia, parts of Central Western Africa etc. Indian Monsoons are Convection cells on a very large scale. They are periodic or secondary winds which seasonal reversal in wind direction.

Body

Seasonal variation in the India monsoons

 

Effects of climate change on the Indian monsoons:

  • Climate Change has been ruining quite a few things such and Indian Monsoon might be one of them.
  • The worst part here is that the effects of the Indian Monsoon are also felt by others and not just India, making it an active feature of the weather across the globe.
  • Research has confirmed that Monsoon in Asia is entwined with several aspects of global climate along with having an influence over the global atmospheric circulation as well.
  • Since the year 1950, average summer rains in India have declined by around 7 percent.
  • In 1990s, high concentrations of aerosols were found in the northern Indian Ocean. In fact, satellite images even showed a stain across the Indo-Gangetic Plain and over the Indian Ocean, which was named as the “brown cloud”. In 1999, a team of investigators set out to understand what brown cloud exactly was.
  • Black carbon combines with sulfates and other aerosols, wherein the Indo-Gangetic Plain contributes highly due to intensive industrial and extractive activity.
  • Regional Climate Change has been occurring also because of changes in land use.
  • In the last 15 decades, forest cover over Asia has reduced significantly.
  • Increase in agricultural production in India, excessive use of water for irrigation has caused a negative impact on the moisture of the soil thereby diminishing its capability to reflect or absorb heat.
  • Due to all these factors, Monsoon is shifting its patterns.
  • Aerosols absorb solar radiation due to which less of it reaching the surface of the Earth.
  • This leads to cooling of land, reducing the contrast of temperature between sea and land, thereby weakening the atmospheric circulation that sustains the Indian Monsoon.
  • Not only this, changes in circulation in the Indian subcontinent affect air-sea interaction which is the binding factor between Asia and the Indian Ocean.

Measures needed

  • Deploying lower-carbon Energy:
    • There are four main types of low-carbon energy: wind, solar, hydro or nuclear power. The first three are renewable, which means these are good for the environment – as natural resources are used (such as wind or sun) to produce electricity.
    • Deploying lower carbon energy would help address both domestic and international climate challenges while simultaneously improving the economic well-being of India’s citizens.
  • Mainstreaming Renewable energy:
    • India’s energy mix is dominated by coal powered electric generation stations as of now.
    • The need of the hour is increase the share of renewable energy in this energy mix.
  • Focus on Energy Efficiency:
    • Will need energy efficient buildings, lighting, appliances and industrial practicesto meet the net-zero goal.
  • Increased usage of Biofuels:
    • Can help reduce emissions from light commercial vehicles, tractors in agriculture.
    • In aviation, the only practical solution for reducing emissions is greater use of biofuels, until hydrogen technology gains scale.
  • Transition towards Electric vehicles:
    • This will further help curb the carbon emissions.
  • Carbon Sequestration:
    • India willhave to rely on natural and man-made carbon sinks to soak up those emissions. Trees can capture 0.9 billion tons; the country will need carbon capture technologies to sequester the rest.
  • Carbon Pricing:
    • India, which already taxes coal and petroleum fuels, should consider putting a tax on emissions to drive change.

Way forward

  • Given the massive shifts underway in India’s energy system, we would benefit from taking stock of our actions and focusing on near-term transitions.
  • This will allow us to meet and even over-comply with our 2030 target while also ensuring concomitant developmental benefits, such as developing a vibrant renewable industry.
  • We can start putting in place the policies and institutions necessary to move us in the right direction for the longer-term and also better understand, through modelling and other studies, the implications of net-zero scenarios before making a net-zero pledge.
  • It would also be in India’s interest to link any future pledge to the achievement of near-term action by industrialised countries.
  • That would be fair and consistent with the principles of the UNFCCC and also enhance the feasibility of our own actions through, for example, increasing availability and reducing costs of new mitigation technologies.

Conclusion

Climate change is set to inescapably alter the ocean temperatures around the Indian neighbourhood. So, giving more importance to understanding the vagaries of the NE monsoon should be among India’s key priority in adapting to climate change. India needs to step up research to improve the performance of the monsoon prediction models. Preparedness is the best way forward.