2023 was second warmest year for India since 1901

GS Paper III

News Excerpt: 

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), The year 2023 ended as the second warmest on record for India since 1901.

About the Indian Weather this year:

  • The annual mean surface temperature over the Indian landmass was 0.65 degrees Celsius above the long-term average temperature, which was marginally lower than 0.71 degrees Celsius recorded in 2016. 
  • Rainfall: December rainfall in the South peninsula comprising the meteorological sub-divisions of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, Kerala, and south interior Karnataka, was the highest since 2001 and 10th highest since 1901. 
    • The peninsula received 126% higher rainfall.
  • Cyclones: The north Indian Ocean witnessed above normal cyclone activity with six tropical storms, three of which (Mocha, Biparjoy and Tej) were extremely severe cyclonic storms.

  • Warmer mornings: Most parts of the country were expected to witness relatively warmer mornings with central and northwestern parts set to experience cooler days with the weather office forecasting below normal monthly maximum temperatures over the region. 
  • Other weather events: In addition to tropical cyclones, India also witnessed other extreme weather events like extremely heavy rainfall, floods, landslide, lightning, thunderstorm and droughts with states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim bearing the brunt. 
    • According to IMD’s own analysis, as many 1,270 people were killed in thunderstorms and lightning, followed by 860 in floods and 160 in heatwaves. 
  • Worryingly all the five warmest years in Indian weather history were recorded within the last 14 years, suggesting a rapid increase in surface temperature and change in weather patterns. They are 2016, 2023, 2009, 2017 and 2010.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has declared that 2023 is on track to be the warmest year on record globally, with a greater than 99 percent likelihood.

Reason of Changing weather pattern in Indian peninsula:

  • 2023 was an El Nino year, which is associated with higher than normal temperatures and extremes. 
    • February, July, August, September, November and December were months when either the maximum or minimum temperatures with respect to the seasons remained above normal.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels are likely the cause of the heatwaves.
  • Regional factors like western disturbances and the upcoming cyclone developing in the Bay of Bengal are responsible for the higher-than-normal minimum temperatures.

Government Initiatives:

  • India has developed its policy response through missions and programmes to reduce its climate vulnerability. 
    • On 30th June 2008, the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) was released. It is a national strategy of 8 sub-missions to help adapt and magnify ecological sustainability in India’s development path. These are-
      • National Solar Mission (NSM), 
      • National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE), 
      • National Mission on Sustainable Habitat (NMSH), 
      • National Water Mission (NWM), 
      • National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE), 
      • National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC), 
      • National Mission for a Green India (GIM), and 
      • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).
  • Indian govt. Worked for renewable energy through International solar alliance, CoP meets and establishes non-fossil fuel industries.

Way Forward:

  • The escalating climate crisis demands urgent action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changing climate
  • India has taken steps to transition to a cleaner energy future, but more needs to be done. 
  • Investing in renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency and adopting sustainable practices are crucial steps in reducing India’s carbon footprint. 
  • Additionally, strengthening early warning systems and building resilience to extreme weather events are essential for protecting communities and livelihoods.
  • India’s experience with extreme weather events serves as a stark reminder of the far-reaching impacts of climate change. 
    • Addressing this global challenge requires a concerted global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changing climate. 
    • By transitioning to a low-carbon economy and building resilient communities, India can play a leading role in shaping a more sustainable future for all.

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