The Center for Science and Environment (CSE), a research organization in New Delhi, said that there were around 1 000 extreme rainfall events just in the first 12 days of August in India, according to a report released on September 6, 2019.
The data was gathered from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), which also showed that the most extreme rain events measure more than 200 mm (8 inches) per day. Meanwhile, very heavy rain events were more than 120 mm (5 inches) per day.
Sunita Narain, CSE head, explained the high number of extreme weather phenomenon in the country and how it can worsen land degradation in the 14th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The conference is taking place in India from September 2 to September 12, 2019.
"We are seeing extremely heavy rain in very few number of days. There were 1 000 extremely heavy rain events in the first 12 days of August and data shows rain has been as extreme as up to 3 000% more rain in a day. There were droughts and floods in the same state this monsoon. We have documented unusually high spikes in rainfall for several states. Nature’s revenge is on us," Narain said.
Extreme monsoon rains hit western India and Myanmar in early August 2019, causing dramatic flooding and landslides and leaving at least 258 people dead. The animation below depicts satellite-based measurements of rainfall from August 1 - 12, 2019. The darkest reds reflect the highest rainfall amounts, with many places receiving 600 mm (24 inches) or more during this period. The image below shows the totals after twelve days of rain, from August 1 - 12. The measurements are a product of Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, a partnership between NASA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and five other national and international partners.
From August 1 to 12, at least 193 people have been killed in floods and landslides across western India. In addition, the authorities have evacuated around 1 million people into emergency camps.
Image credit: NASA/IMERG, GSFC
The continuous rains resulted in high number of fatalities since the start of the monsoon season, with 295 in Maharashtra, 193 in West Bengal, 177 in Kerala, 124 in Gujarat, 122 in Madhya Pradesh, 104 in Karnataka, 94 in Assam, 62 in Uttarakhand, 51 in Himachal Pradesh, and 14 in Punjab according to a report on September 5, 2019.
The states of Maharashtra and Kerala both battled floods and drought this monsoon, and Narain noted that people mismanaging resources is also one of the factors that worsen the impacts.
"Let's not let leaders blame the extreme events on the inevitable," she further said.
Pulak Guhathakurta, the head of Climate Application and User Interface, said that “this year has been particularly severe. It supports the pattern we are seeing and have reported in the past that heavy and extremely heavy rainfall events are going up. Stations from Maharashtra reported a lot of extreme heavy rainfall events this August,”
Data from IMD showed that the rains were the strongest in July and August, as compared to the past four years. 914 weather stations recorded heavy rains in July, while 1 629 stations recorded heavy rains in August.
Furthermore, experts believe that soil erosion is affecting the land temperature in India, which also causes the extreme rainfall rise in the country.
Featured image credit NASA/IMERG, GSFC