Rising Cyclone Intensity due to Micro-Climatic Changes – UPSC GS1

Context: According to the Council on Energy, Environment and Water(CEEW) report the cyclone frequency has doubled after 2005 in India. Micro Climatic Changes are contributing to this change.
Key Findings of the report:
  • In the last 50 years, India has recorded a 12-fold increase in the number of cyclonic events such as extreme rainfall, floods, sea-level rise, and thunderstorms.
  • The frequency of extreme weather events is far more severe on the western coast of India. This is expected to increase further in the coming decades.
  • Arabian Sea cyclones have been impacting India’s west coast at the rate of one per year since 2018. This frequency is not seen before in five decades.
Reasons behind the increasing intensity of cyclones on western coastal areas:
  • Microclimatic changes triggered by local climate change drivers are the reasons behind it. Changes include land-use-surface change, deforestation, encroachments upon wetlands and water bodies, which are contributing to this change.
  • These factors are contributing to excessive heating of land areas. This heat is further pulled into the ocean, which is in excess of the heating of oceans due to global warming. It intensifies storms into cyclones.
Initiatives by the government:
  • The Government of India launched the second phase of the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project in 2015.
  • The programme is being implemented successfully in the Eastern coast of India and especially states like Odisha.
  • However, the projects along the western coast are lagging. The projects were to be completed by 2019, but the states here have missed this deadline, Hence, the deadline has now been extended to 2022.
Recommendations:
  • Climate-vulnerable states such as Gujarat need to focus more on building climate resilience, especially at the local and regional levels.
  • States must invest in cost-effective (and nature-based) resilient infrastructure.
  • Governments should develop decentralised capacity to respond to climate shocks and design salient public information campaigns to prepare vulnerable communities against climate risks.
  • At the national level, a Climate Risk Commission with statutory status is required. The commission should be supported by a Climate Risk Atlas with district-level information.
  • New insurance schemes should be launched to provide the safety net for livelihoods and not just the saving of lives.