There has been an annual increase in hydro meteorological disasters by 7.4 per cent due to climate change. Climate change is also resulting in reduced number of rainy days during rainy season, unseasonal thunderstorms/lightning and a rise in global temperatures. Indeed, winds, thunderstorms, floods and other atmospheric phenomena are similar experiences of hydro meteorological disasters, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) director general Laxman Singh Rathore has said.
Delivering the keynote address at the inaugural of an international conference on ‘Professional Engineers: Challenges in Disaster Management’ conducted by GITAM University here Thursday, Rathore stated that the Asian countries were facing almost 85 per cent of the world’s disasters and 90 per cent of floods were witnessed only in India. “India faces a gross domestic product (GDP) loss of 2.25 per cent in terms of economy and 12-15 per cent in terms of revenue because of natural disasters.” While 58.6 per cent of land in India was prone to earthquakes, the scientists observed a steady rise in natural disasters such as thunderstorms, winds, hail storms and air quantum disasters in urban areas in the recent times due to rapid industrialisation. Against this backdrop, the IMD plays an important role by predicting disasters and warning the people, he pointed out.
“Until 2009, we used to predict a cyclone just a day before it made landfall. But by 2012, we are able to predict its course five days in advance and during Hudhud, the disaster was predicted seven days before it made landfall in Visakhapatnam. However, there is a dire need for accessing other characteristics of cyclones, which include wind regime and rainfall,” he explained.
The IMD improved significantly in weather forecasting technologies by using better equipment and information dissemination systems. During Hudhud, casualties were reported due to unsafe buildings, gusting winds and, falling of trees and hoardings.
“Hence, the IMD suggests constructing earthquake-resistant buildings and using advanced infrastructure technologies in setting up telecommunication services, which come handy during natural disasters,” Rathore added.
National Resources Data Management System (Department of Science and Technology) head Bhoop Singh stressed the need for producing young scientists and pointed out that the disasters nowadays were mostly manmade ones.
Scientist M Sudhakar from the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, also shared his experiences during disasters.
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