Indian cities and the 2021 IPCC AR6 report

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There are clear signals in the IPCC report (AR6) that Indian cities need to upgrade their climate plans urgently.

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 Indian cities and the 2021 IPCC AR6 report


  • The story: The Sixth Assessment Report of IPCC recognises compound extremes, multiple climate change drivers working together to maximise disaster impacts. The report "Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis", for the first time recognised the role of compound extremes and multiple climate change drivers operating in tandem in maximising disaster impacts in India and elsewhere.
  • Pollution and rainfall: Burgeoning air pollution has reduced the intesity as well as frequency of monsoon rains in India and the rest of south Asia, the Report said. It spelt out with “moderate confidence” how urbanisation has pushed up intense rainfall in cities across South Asia using several scientific evidences generated on India cities. The political leadership in south Asian countries, including India, must keep these findings in mind and act proactively as they plan post-novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) economic recovery.
  • Heat and Indian monsoon: Rainfall has been on the decline and monsoon deficits on the rise in different regions in south Asia. Data shows a decrease in mean rainfall over most parts of the eastern and central north regions of India.
  1. Concurrently the frequency of heavy precipitation events has increased over India, while the frequency of moderate rain events has decreased since 1950.
  2. It said that the “the dominant cause of the observed decrease of south and southeast Asian monsoon precipitation since mid-20th century is anthropogenic aerosol forcing”.
  • Anthropogenic aerosol: It is a suspension of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in air created mostly by air pollutant like particulate and smoke emitted from vehicles, industries and other sources. Incidentally, the level of air pollution, particularly toxic particulate like particulate matter 2.5, has been found to be the highest in Indian sub-continent with Bangladesh, Pakistan and India occupying top three positions respective at global benchmark.
  1. Air pollution increased over the Indian subcontinent, and so have aerosol levels; it acts as a barrier and reduces the difference of temperature between sea surface and land.
  2. This provides a cooling effect and reduces monsoon intensity. While the AR6 report predicted stronger monsoon and fewer droughts in coming years, the finding has been earmarked “low confidence”.
  3. The report predicted a turnaround in monsoon intensity in India and around linking it with rising temperature: A significant increase in temperature over South Asia will happen ultimately, and increased summer monsoon precipitation too. [note that various parts of such statements are attached with varying 'confidence levels' in the IPCC AR6 report]
  • Monsoon: While the exact nature of monsoon in near future (2020-2040) looked uncertain due to inherent variability, there was some certainty that the monsoon rainfall would increase beyond 2040. Throughout Asia, “intensity and frequency of hot extremes, such as warm days, warm nights, and heat waves; and decreases in the intensity and frequency of cold extremes, such as cold days and cold nights” is on the card. But India and Pakistan are expected to suffer more: More intense heat waves of longer durations and occurring at a higher frequency are projected over India and Pakistan.
  • Cities: The AR6 report has predicted with “medium confidence” that major Indian cities would experience more bursts of intense rainfalls, mainly influenced by urbanisation.
  1. There is new evidence of the effect of local land use and land cover change on heavy precipitation (with) a growing set of literature linking increases in heavy precipitation in urban centres to urbanisation.
  2. Urbanisation intensifies extreme precipitation, especially in the afternoon and early evening, over the urban area and its down-wind region.
  3. High intensity of heat released in the major cities, coupled with locally generated air pollution, triggers aerosol load that contributes in cloud formation. Urban structure often trap the wind and act together to bring bursts of intense rainfalls in Indian cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and others.
  4. The temperature of Kolkata during 1950-2018 increased 2.6 degree Celsius, the highest among all the cities mentioned in the IPCC regional factsheet.
  5. Aerosol acts in diverse ways — while at a macro scale it imparts a cooling effect and reduces monsoon rain, at a micro scale, especially in urban centres, it contributes to intense bursts of downpour.
  • Rains in cities: Cities in the South Asia region would experience more intense rainfall, and in absence of adequate infrastructure, may face severe water logging in coming years. The frequency of major floods in Ganga basin has now increased at least four times compared to earlier decades. Many Asian cities located either on or near the coastline would have to withstand significant sea level rise in 2100. It said Mumbai and Chennai have had 0.58 and 0.57 meters of sea level rise, the highest among the metros. This was followed by Kolkata (Khidderpur in report) with 0.15 meter rise.


 

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PT's IAS Academy: Indian cities and the 2021 IPCC AR6 report
Indian cities and the 2021 IPCC AR6 report
There are clear signals in the IPCC report (AR6) that Indian cities need to upgrade their climate plans urgently.
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