India's major city Chennai drowned, negotiations around climate finance heats-up at COP28

Warmer atmosphere leads to higher water retention capacity, leading to larger and larger cyclones, which is not good news for those of us on the ground, pointed out experts
Passersby help a woman who fell onto a waterlogged street after losing control of her two-wheeler in Chennai on Thursday. (Photo | P Ravikumar)
Passersby help a woman who fell onto a waterlogged street after losing control of her two-wheeler in Chennai on Thursday. (Photo | P Ravikumar)

DUBAI: Nature spares no one. Floods and natural calamities don’t differentiate between people. The impact of rain within the IIT-Madras campus on Monday stands testimony to this. Even when IITs are considered the temples of learning, neither the weather forecast models nor other technological advances was helpful.

As per the IMD data, the Nungambakkam and Meenambakkam weather stations have recorded a staggering 46.8 cm and 43.8 cm of rainfall in the last 48 hours ending 8.30 am on Tuesday. This is worse than 2015 rains, where these stations had recorded 29.4 cm and 34.5 cm in 24 hours on the night of December 1, a nightmare that Chennaites want to forget.

This time too, the lake inside the IIT campus was not spared and there is water everywhere. Of course this is not IIT’s problem alone. The water that has flown from various outlets have also accounted for flooding inside IIT-Madras. Nambi Appadurai, director, Climate Resilience Practice at World Resources Institute, India, said, “I live close to the lake within IIT-Madras, and my family is experiencing a difficult situation for the second time within a span of a decade.” 

Last time, in 2015, I was at the Paris Conference of Parties (CoP) and now again in Dubai attending the 28th CoP. Years rolled by and there’s been no dearth for discussions and declarations. Yet we haven’t found a reasonable solution to manage calamities which have become a routine,” he said. Nambi spent a tense morning as he and his wife Indumathi Nambi, a professor at IIT-Madras, were out of the country when severe cyclonic storm ‘Michaung’ triggered massive flooding in Chennai. 

“Both of us are not around, having to travel on professional commitments. My ageing mom and our pet dog are alone at home. Fortunately, thanks to our colleagues, the IIT administration and friends to whom we are eternally indebted, we managed to shift my mother to the IIT guest house at the nick of time, before water started trickling in to our house this morning. We met the same scenario in 2015,” he said.  

“In 1998 when both my wife and I were students in New York pursuing our doctoral programme we experienced once-in-a-100 year snow storm. We never thought we would spend a week in a makeshift shelter at the ice hockey stadium of the university,” he recalled. 

As a professional touching upon climate space, nature is constantly asking the self to get engaged in what is being done.  There is no room to relax, despite all the technological advances one sees in forecast and relief measures. 

“I attribute our survival to the resilience and adaptive capacities we have built over years but this will soon wane away if we don’t pay attention to mitigate the factors that contribute to climate change. I only hope my daughter and her heirs are not put into this situation. For now this remains wishful thinking,”Nambi told TNIE on the sidelines of COP28 summit in Dubai.

‘Unprecedented rains, trying best’
Meanwhile, a statement from IIT-M on the rainwater impact on campus read: It is unprecedented rains and the institute is doing its best to bring the situation under control. Students in hostels which are waterlogged are being served food there itself. For others, we are providing bus facility to move safely within campus. The institute has also set up a control room to address all contingencies.      

KJ Ramesh, former chief of Indian Meteorological Department, said warmed up atmosphere will be capacitated with even higher water holding. This can potentially contribute to the growth of much bigger cyclones horizontally and vertically. They can extend to colder temperature zones in the atmosphere, leading to the formation of large ice crystals within cloud environments and yielding extremely strong thunderstorms and lightning. This would be accompanied by high-intensity, short-duration rain spells all over.

"Precariously, even stronger extreme events can be expected," he said.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express