Jammu and Kashmir Flood ‘Glimpse’ of Calamities Ahead

Sep 14th, 2014 | By | Category: Climatic Changes in Himalayas, Disaster and Emergency, Flood, News

j-k-floods-2_350_091314103840Said to be the state’s worst in over a century, the Jammu and Kashmir floods might just be the harbinger of bigger calamities. Amid the recent spate of ominous reports that have revealed how the government, both at the Centre and in Jammu and Kashmir, sat on information about an imminent disaster, three other warnings from the past few years paint a grimmer picture.

The warnings, from two studies and the UK’s PRECIS regional climate modelling system, are unanimous on one conclusion: the Himalayan region, which includes the two most recent sufferers of devastating flash floods, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand, is receiving more rainfall than ever before and it’s only getting worse.

The first of these studies, titled ‘Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA)’, was commissioned by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2010. It foresees that by the 2030s, precipitation in Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand will rise by up to 50 per cent over what it was in the 1970s.

The state receives an average precipitation of 1,011 mm a year. A rise of 5-20 per cent has been projected for most areas of the Himalayan region.

The study – conducted by around 250 scientists from more than 20 institutes like the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, National Institute of Oceanography, IIT and JNU – has predicted that the annual rainfall in the region is likely to vary between 1,268 mm (with an error margin of 225.2mm) and 1,604 mm (error margin of 175.2 mm) in the 2030s.

“The number of rainy days in the Himalayan region in the 2030s may increase by 5-10 days on an average, with an increase of more than 15 days in the eastern part of Jammu and Kashmir region. The intensity of rainfall is likely to increase by 1-2 mm a day,” the report added.

“With increasing temperatures, it is anticipated that there may be an all-round decrease in apple production in the Himalayan region, and the line of production may shift to the higher altitudes,” it said, adding, “Flash floods due to glacial lake outbursts may lead to large-scale landslides and affect food security and hence nutritional health”.

The report further draws notice to an “imminent” rise in extreme weather events in the Himalayan region, foreseeing minimum temperatures in the region going up by 1-4.5°C and maximum by 1-3.5°C.

The second study in question was conducted by the G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development (GBPIHED), a key environment ministry research institution. Participating researchers said, in the course of the study, they had noticed “a strengthening trend of winter rainfall (between 1964-2006) and summer rainfall (between 1938-2006) and weakening monsoon rain (1960 onwards).

“The amount of precipitation in the last five years compared to the previous five years has roughly been the same. Only its kind and intensity have changed. It is the high and low events that are causing difficulties,” said former GBPIHED director LMS Palni.

The UK Met office’s PRECIS system has also warned of a massive rise of 250-500 mm of annual rainfall in the Indian Himalayan region, especially J&K, over the next 50 years.

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