KOCHI: Prayers to stop rains might have been gravely heeded by the Gods. Exceeding two weeks since the state has received rainfall, reports of a drought are hovering around the corner with maximum temperatures recorded replete with the shrinking of water bodies and the shortage of potable water.
The Indian Meteorological Department has recorded maximum temperatures that are above normal, 1.6 degree celsius to 3.0 degree celcius, in Kerala. The sudden variation in climate, ranging from extreme rains to long dry spells however, cannot be completely attributed to global warming, according to Roxy Mathew Koll, climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune. “Some signatures of the current events, for example strengthening of the monsoon winds, the spread of the rainfall, and the intensity of the rainfall fits well into the climate change picture,” said Roxy, in a recent report.
Albeit, S Abhilash, executive director of the Radar Centre, Cusat, feels that it is too early to draw conclusions to a drought. “Nevertheless, there are two primary reasons as to why the current situation could be a forbearer of drought; One, the state hasn’t received rainfall for about 25 days. Two, due to extremely hot weather, water content has heavily evaporated from the soil,” he said.
According to Abhilash, a drought-like situation mainly depends on the post-monsoon rain. The state annually receives two stretches of rainfall, from the months of June-September called as the monsoon (edavappathi), and from October-December, referred to as the post-monsoon (Thulavarsham). The post-monsoon rain ought to keep the soil moisturized until the next bout of rain. If not, a drought arises.
Climate scientists have annotated that Kerala received more than 350% rainfall than usual. Paradoxically, other than creating massive destruction, the excess water has done nothing in terms of water conservation. “The rains expected for the entire month of August fell in one week which was pointless in terms of water conservation,” Abhilash said. Roxy’s findings draw the same conclusion; the state received 130-140 mm rainfall over two days, 15 and 16 August.
The geomorphology of a region can be severely affected after a flood, thereby creating structural alterations in the topography of the place. Added to this, are man-made activities such as deforestation, sand-mining and quarrying that have contributed to varying situations.And the resolution? “Tackling climate change is a global issue that requires a short-term and long-term action. The short-term action currently necessary is to realize and adapt accordingly,” Abhilash added.