KOCHI: It seems the impact of climate change is being felt in the State much earlier than expected.
A study conducted by scientists at the Kerala Forest Research Institute, comprising soil scientist, ecologist, botanist and sociologist, on the recent plant wilting incidents in various places along the State’s coastal belt, shows that climate change is very much a reality.
It was found that Kerala’s coast is susceptible to the weather change phenomena, as evidenced by the recent heat burst along the coast.
Based on the outcome of the detailed investigation conducted into the wilting of plants in the Alappuzha, Kollam and Thrissur districts, the scientists said evidence collected from the field and the weather data of the ISRO suggested that the phenomena was a result of heat burst accompanied by salt spray.
“This indicates that climate change is a reality in the State. In order to understand and predict the vagaries of climate, especially in the coastal areas, we have to set up a network of automated weather stations urgently,” said Dr S Sandeep, a scientist at the Department of Soil Science, Sustainable Forest Management Division, KFRI.
According to meteorologists, heat burst, which is characterised by gusty winds and a rapid increase in temperature and drop in moisture, typically occurs during the night and is associated with decaying thunderstorms. The scientists said that in the recent incidents, the temperature rise would have varied from place to place (5-10 degree Celsius). That is why even hardy leaves, such as those of coconut palms, got wilted. However, at the majority of the sites, it was restricted to fleshy or tender leaves.
Field observations revealed that the wilting was caused by energy/matter transmitted by wind, as that the affected plant parts were those exposed to the incoming wind from the sea.
The scientist have also weighed the theories of acid rain, salt spray, heat generated and carried by wind, and heat wave.
In the latest case, the abnormal wilting of plants was noticed primarily in isolated areas along the coast, not on a continuous stretch. If it was a heat wave, it would have affected a large area covering thousands of sq kms (inland) and lasted for more than two days, with a devastating effect on human beings,” said the delegation that included Dr K A Sreejith, Dr V B Sreekumar and Dr V Anitha.