75% districts in India hotspots of extreme climate events
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment; Climate change
- Over 75% districts in India, home to more than 63.8 crore people, are hotspots of extreme climate events such as cyclones, floods, droughts, heat and cold waves, according to a study released by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).
- This is the first time that extreme weather event hotspots in the country have been mapped.
- The frequency, intensity, and unpredictability of these extreme events have risen in recent decades.
- While India witnessed 250 extreme climate events in 35 years between 1970 and 2005, it recorded 310 such weather events in only 15 years since then.
- In the last 50 years, the frequency of flood events increased almost eight times.
- Events associated with floods such as landslides, heavy rainfall, hailstorms, thunderstorms, and cloudbursts increased by over 20 times.
- Six of India’s eight most flood-prone districts in the last decade—Barpeta, Darrang, Dhemaji, Goalpara, Golaghat, Sivasagar—are in Assam.
- The yearly average of drought-affected districts increased 13 times after 2005. Nearly 68% of the districts have faced droughts and drought-like situations.
- Drought-affected district hotspots of India in the last decade were Ahmednagar, Aurangabad (both Maharashtra), Anantapur, Chittoor (both Andhra Pradesh), Bagalkot, Bijapur, Chikkaballapur, Gulbarga, and Hassan (all Karnataka).
- The study also found a shift in the pattern of extreme climate events, such as flood-prone areas becoming drought-prone and vice-versa, in over 40% of Indian districts.
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- Microclimatic zones, or areas where the weather is different from surrounding areas, are shifting across various districts of India.
- A shift in microclimate zones may lead to severe disruptions across sectors – every 2 degrees C rise in annual mean temperature will reduce agricultural productivity by 15-20%, it has found.
- Reasons behind shift in microclimatic zones: Change in land-use patterns, disappearing wetlands and natural ecosystems by encroachment, and urban heat islands that trap heat locally.