Global warming making Indian monsoon seasons stronger, more chaotic : Study

If global warming continues unchecked, summer monsoon rainfall in India will become more stronger and erratic, as per a study that predicts extremely wet years in the future, with potentially grave consequences for over a billion people’s well-being, economy, food systems and agriculture. The research, published in the journal named ‘Earth System Dynamics’. This is the key finding of an analysis that compared more than 30 state-of-the-art climate models from all around the globe.

Meanwhile, Study lead author Anja Katzenberger from the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany said that, “We have found robust evidence for an exponential dependence: For every degree Celsius of warming, monsoon rainfalls will likely increase by about 5 per cent,” she added.

Heavy Rain and Flooding can harm plants

Study lead author said, “Hereby we were also able to confirm previous studies but find that global warming is increasing monsoon rainfall in India even more than previously thought. It is dominating monsoon dynamics in the 21st century,” Katzenberger asserted. Significantly, The researchers highlighted that more rainfall is not necessarily a good thing for the farming sector in India and its neighbouring countries, Katzenberger added.

Thus, The study shows that too much rainfall can harm plants. Another Co-author Julia Pongratz from Ludwig-Maximilian University (LMU) in Germany remarked that, “Crops need water especially in the initial growing period, but too much rainfall during other growing states can harm plants — including rice on which the majority of India’s population is depending for sustenance,” Pongratz added.

“This makes the Indian economy and food system highly sensitive to volatile monsoon patterns,” asserted Pongratz. A look into the past underlines that human behaviour is behind the intensification of rainfall, according to the researchers. Starting in the 1950s, human-made forcings have begun to overtake slow natural changes occurring over many millennia, it said.

A great threat to the well-being of the Indian subcontinent

“We see more and more that climate change is about unpredictable weather extremes and their serious consequences,” asserted group leader and co-author Anders Levermann from PIK and Columbia University in the US. “Because what is really on the line is the socio-economic well-being of the Indian subcontinent,” Levermann added.

He also explained that a more chaotic monsoon season poses a threat to the agriculture and economy in the region and should be a wakeup call for policy makers to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions globally, He added.  At first, high sun-light blocking aerosol loadings led to subdued warming and thus a decline in rainfall. However, from 1980 onwards, greenhouse gas-induced warming has become the deciding driver for stronger and more erratic Monsoon seasons.

Reference: “Robust increase of Indian monsoon rainfall and its variability under future warming in CMIP-6 models” by Anja Katzenberger, Jacob Schewe, Julia Pongratz and Anders Levermann, 14 April 2021, Earth System Dynamics.

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