New assessment by the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and Down To Earth magazine which provides a comprehensive overview of the state of extreme weather in India
Of the first 273 days this year, India has witnessed extreme weather events on 242 days, a new report has said. The report says that more than 88 % of the time – between January 1 and September 30 – the country was witnessing extreme weather events happening in one or more regions.
The new assessment by the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and Down To Earth magazine which provides a comprehensive overview of the state of extreme weather in India across a major part of the year said, “India has seen close to a disaster every day in the nine months of this year – from heat and cold waves, cyclones and lightning to heavy rains, floods, and landslides.”
CSE Director General Sunita Narain said ‘what the country has witnessed so far in 2022 is the new abnormal in a warming world.” “There is a clear spike in frequency and intensity of extreme events that we are seeing,” she said.
Narain said that report provides season-wise, month-wise and region-wise analysis of extreme weather events and their associated loss and damage.
The report said, “India has seen a disaster almost every day in the nine months of this year – from heat and cold waves, cyclones and lightning to heavy rains, floods, and landslides”.
Loss and damage under-estimated:
These disasters have claimed 2,755 lives, affected 1.8 million hectares of crop area, destroyed over 416,667 houses, and killed close to 70,000 livestock, the report said.
“This estimation of loss and damage is probably an underestimate as data for each event – including losses of public property or crop loss — has not been collated or estimated,” said Rajit Sengupta, Associate Editor of Down To Earth and one of the writers of the report.
Madhya Pradesh saw the highest number of days with extreme weather events, but Himachal Pradesh saw the highest number of human fatalities — 359 deaths. Madhya Pradesh and Assam witnessed 301 human deaths each.
Assam reported the highest number of damaged houses and animal deaths.
Karnataka, which experienced an extreme weather event on 82 days, accounted for more than 50 % of the crop area affected in the country. Madhya Pradesh, as per official records, did not report any crop area damage. Sengupta said this could be due to “gaps in loss and damage reporting”.
The central and north-western regions reported the highest number of days with extreme weather events at 198 and 195, respectively. In terms of human lives lost, central India topped the list with 887 deaths, followed by the east and northeast (783 deaths).
Warmest, wettest, driest:
In 2022, India recorded its seventh wettest January since 1901. This March was also the warmest ever and the third driest in 121 years. It was also the country’s third-warmest April, 11th-warmest August, and 8th-warmest September since 1901.
Eastern and northeastern India saw its warmest and driest July in 121 years. The region also recorded its second-warmest August and fourth-warmest September in 2022.
Heat waves claimed 45 lives, but what is not captured in the official data is the impact of the prolonged high temperatures on people’s well-being in north India – from farmers to construction workers — and how they coped with the intense and searing heat.