Climate change a key factor behind devastation in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand


The latest spell of heavy rain in Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand, which killed many people and caused a huge loss of property, was caused due to northward movement of the axis of the monsoon trough-driven weather conditions. These conditions that led to heavy to very heavy rain across the Himalayan region.

Though weather conditions must have been favourable for heavy rain there, the ‘climate change’ has a definite role in the increasing intensity of weather activities, say the climatologists.

Experts said the atmosphere, land and oceans are warming at a faster rate owing to the climate change. “The warmer it becomes, the more moisture the atmosphere can hold.

This has led to more water being evaporated from the earth’s surface. This increases the holding capacity of the air, which results in more droplets and heavier rain, sometimes in a shorter space of time and over a smaller area,” said experts.

Experts added that there had been an increase in the average relative humidity across India because of the rapid rise in land and sea temperatures. Experts said humidity was the prime factor behind the increasing likelihood of heavier rain and even more dangerous heat waves.

Experts said both humidity and temperature were the twin pillars of climate change.

“Monsoon rainfall patterns over India have seen a climatic shift in the recent decades. The most significant change is that instead of having moderate rains, spread out through the monsoon season, we have long dry periods intermittently with short spells of heavy rain.

We saw this pattern manifesting during the current year also. Even though the all-India average rainfall is near normal, the regional rainfall during the season has had deficits and floods.

The pace of global warming has now accelerated, and we need urgent action as these extreme conditions will intensify in the near future,” said Dr Roxy Mathew Koll, senior scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.

“The tragic loss of lives and devastation, caused by the recent landslides and flash floods in Himachal Pradesh, serves as a stark reminder of the intensifying impact of climate change on vulnerable regions.

As climate change accelerates, the frequency and severity of such natural disasters are rising. The heavy rains that have besieged Himachal Pradesh over the last few weeks are consistent with the patterns expected in a warming world.

Increased temperatures can lead to more intense rainfall events, escalating the risk of landslides and flash floods. The vulnerability of hillside communities and the crumbling of essential infrastructure further magnifies the tragedy.

Immediate action is imperative,” said Anjal Prakash, Clinical Associate Professor (Research) and Research Director, at Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business.