Climate change and Monsoon

Deccan Chronicle.  | Akshay Heblikar

Lifestyle, Environment

Climate change in different regions has been occurring also because of vast changes in land use.

Nearly 60% of the crops in our country are completely dependent upon rainfall.

The monsoon is the most important season in India and maximum amount of rainfall is spread across the months of June, July, August and September. In fact it can be said that more than 90% of Asia is dependent on monsoon which therefore makes it an integral part of their lives and livelihood. Even now nearly 60% of the crops in our country are completely dependent upon rainfall. Thus, agriculture by all means is the backbone of the Indian economy. Further more, it also employs more than 50% of the Indian population making it the only economy in the world that is so dependent on seasonal rainfall.

However, as per recent findings climate change & global warming has been ruining quite a few seasonal phenomenon and the monsoon in India is definitely one of them. But interestingly, the impact of the Indian monsoon is not just limited to India alone. It also affects the neighbouring countries in the continent which further makes it an important feature of the global weather system. Various research and studies have confirmed that monsoon in Asia is inter-related with several aspects of global climatic systems in addition to its influence on the global atmospheric circulation. It is also observed that certain characteristics features of the Indian monsoon have direct consequences on a major part of the world. Thus it can be said that no other part of the global climate system has greater impact than the monsoons. Therefore, it can be said, without a doubt, that, the monsoon is one of the most complex natural global phenomenons in the world that eventually decides the fate of people and their livelihoods.

But, off late, it is becoming clearly evident that it isn't just warming of the planet which is responsible for the monsoons & rains, but there are other factors including such as carbon emissions, forest fires, crop burning as well as irreversible changes in the way land is being used and treated for various purposes. Thus, the challenge is not just to study and understand the impact on the monsoon, but also try to address them through various methods and approaches. Currently available records of climate and rainfall in India have helped scientists in many ways to rebuild and predict the behavior of monsoons in the past and the results have been surprising, sometimes shocking and complex as well. In fact the pre-monsoon rains have declined by nearly 10% over the last three decades. It was observed that in the early 1990s high concentrations of aerosols were found in the northern parts of the Indian Ocean. The satellite imageries also showed some kind of stains over certain parts of the Indian Ocean. Later on the studies declared that these stains were brown clouds, which was a combination of black carbon, nitrate, sulfate, dust, fly ash, etc., along with naturally occurring mineral dust and sea salt. Out of this nearly 75% of the haze was due to anthropogenic activities, which was mostly due to burning of biomass / wood, crop residue, cooking coal and the like. Not only do these emissi ons impact our climate, but are harmful to humans as well. One study says that at least 4.0 lakh premature annual deaths in India is due to indoor pollution.

Thus, due to all these factors and issues, monsoon is drastically shifting its patterns. Aerosols absorb solar radiation due to which less amounts of it reaches the Earth's surface leading to cooling of land and thereby reducing the temperature difference between sea and land and thus weakening the natural atmospheric circulation that sustains the monsoon. In addition to this the changes in such circulation in the Indian sub-continent also affects the interaction between land, air and sea which is the most important and the binding factor between Asia and the Indian Ocean.

Climate change in different regions has been occurring also because of vast changes in land use. For ex: forest cover in Asia has reduced significantly over the last 150 years; unprecedented rise in agricultural production; excessive use of water for irrigation; change in cropping patterns and crop-type; heavy usage of chemicals and pesticides and the like. Interestingly, some measures that were taken earlier, to protect India against monsoon, (like irrigation, plan ting of new crops, etc.,) have surprisingly destabilized the monsoon itself. Therefore, it is very important to study, ana lyse, evaluate and then implement projects that consume huge amounts of natural resou rces. It is therefore important to integrate the traditional agricultural systems with the modern technological advancement and after thorough field based evaluation and investigation.