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  • 24 November, 2022

  • 6 Min Read

An Assessment of Extreme Weather Events in India

An Assessment of Extreme Weather Events in India by CSE

  • According to a recent report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India will experience some form of natural disaster almost every day in the first nine months of 2022.
  • Between January 1 and September 30, 2022, India recorded 241 extreme weather events.

About the evaluation

  • The report provides a comprehensive overview of the state of extreme weather in India over the course of the year.
  • The report analyses extreme weather events and their associated loss and damage seasonally, monthly, and regionally.
  • CSE obtained its data from two key Indian government agencies: the IMD and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs' Disaster Management Division (DMD).

The report's major highlights

  • A disaster almost every day: India has experienced a disaster almost every day this year, ranging from heat and cold waves, cyclones, and lightning to heavy rains, floods, and landslides.

Underestimation of loss and damage:

  • These disasters have claimed the lives of 2,755 people, impacted 1.8 million hectares of cropland, destroyed over 416,667 houses, and killed nearly 70,000 livestock.
  • This loss and damage estimate is likely an underestimate because data for each event, including public property losses and crop losses, has not been compiled or estimated.
  • Madhya Pradesh had the most days with extreme weather events, according to the state assessment.
  • Himachal Pradesh recorded the highest number of fatalities (359 deaths).
  • Assam had the highest number of destroyed homes and animal deaths.
  • More than half of the crop area affected in the country was in Karnataka.

Evaluation by region:

  • The central and northwestern regions had the most days with extreme weather events, with 198 and 195, respectively.
  • Central India topped the list of human deaths with 887, followed by the east and northeast (783 deaths).
  • India experienced its seventh wettest January since 1901 in 2022.
  • This March was also the warmest in 121 years and the third driest.
  • July was the warmest and driest in eastern and north-eastern India in 121 years. In 2022, the region also experienced its second-warmest August and fourth-warmest September on record.
  • In the last nine months, all types of extreme weather have been seen; lightning and storms have struck 30 states and claimed 773 lives.

Significant gaps in the report

  • The following losses and damages are not properly assessed: While the IMD releases provide a reasonable estimate of the number of days the country experienced extreme weather events, there are significant gaps in loss and damage assessment.
  • According to CSE researchers, the data is insufficient: During the monsoon season (June-September), for example, media reports suggest widespread crop loss in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, but the Centre's cumulative loss and damage report for the season claims no losses in these states.
  • The lack of a robust public database on extreme weather events in the country makes assessing disaster situations and their consequences difficult.

Way forward

  • The report emphasises the importance of managing these extreme events.
  • The need of the hour is to move beyond disaster management and into risk reduction and resilience.
  • We must improve flood management systems by purposefully constructing drainage and water recharge systems on the one hand, and investing in green spaces and forests on the other, so that these sponges of water can be revitalised for the upcoming storms.

About Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)

  • It is a New Delhi-based public-interest research and advocacy organisation.
  • CSE investigates, advocates for, and communicates the importance of sustainable and equitable development.
  • CSE's efforts are specifically intended to raise awareness of problems and propose long-term solutions.
  • The CSE Pollution Monitoring Laboratory is an independent, analytical laboratory that monitors toxic contamination of the environment and uses the results of this monitoring to advocate for improved toxicity regulation in the country.

What are severe weather events?

  • The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines extreme weather events as "rare at a specific location and time of year."
  • While there is no official definition in India, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) classifies extreme weather events as lightning and thunderstorms, heavy to very and extremely heavy rainfall, landslides and floods, cold and heat waves, cyclones, snowfall, dust and sandstorms, squalls, hail storms, and gales.

Source: The Hindu

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