Spike in severe cyclones, extremely heavy rain over India: Earth sciences ministry to RS

17 Sept 2020

The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences has documented an increase in formation of severe cyclones over the north Indian Ocean and a spike in cases of extremely heavy rainfall in the past three years

The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has documented an increase in formation of severe cyclones over the north Indian Ocean, including the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, and a spike in cases of extremely heavy rainfall, measuring over 20 centimetres (20 cm), in the past three years.

Though frequency of severe cyclones has increased, the loss of life has reduced to double-digit figures since 2013 because of better forecast, MoES said in Rajya Sabha in response to a question on Wednesday.

On average, five cyclones developed over the north Indian Ocean between 1891 and 2017.

But in 2018 and 2019, seven and eight cyclones were recorded, respectively.

Five cyclones had developed over the Arabian Sea last year. The normal is one cyclone per year since 1902, the ministry said.

More intense cyclones over the Arabian Sea were reported last year, according to the MoES. In 2018, out of seven cyclones, six were of severe intensity; while last year out of eight, seven were severe.

“The country has witnessed intense to very intense rainfall activity leading to flood scenarios in the recent past,” the note said. It added that 554 weather stations reported extremely heavy rainfall, measuring over 20 cm, last year.It cited that out of 4,000 weather stations, 3,056 reported very heavy rainfall.

The numbers were lower in 2018 and 2017, according to the MoES note.

In 2017, 261 stations had recorded extremely heavy rainfall and 1,824 stations had recorded very heavy rain. “There is an increasing trend in heavy and extremely heavy rainfall cases, which I have said in the past also. But there are no conclusions to be drawn from the three-year data. This has been happening for some time now. It doesn’t mean that every year cases of heavy or extremely heavy rainfall will be higher than the previous year,” said Dr Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director-general India Meteorological Department (IMD).

In reply to a question on several low-magnitude earthquakes in recent months, the MoES stated that 413 tremors have been recorded by the National Centre for Seismology (NCS) between March 1 and September 8. Out of 413 tremors, 11 were between 5 and 5.7 magnitude on the Richter scale, while 135 were of less than 3.

The ministry has said there are no plans for establishing more number of Cyclone Warning Centres as the requirements of the entire coastal belt of the country is covered.

“IMD has demonstrated its capability to provide early warning for cyclones with high precision and has earned accolades globally and nationally for very effective, state of art early warning system for monitoring and prediction of cyclones. The cyclone forecast accuracy has significantly improved in recent years as has been demonstrated during cyclones Phailin (2013), Hudhud (2014), Vardah (2016), Titli (2018), Fani and Bulbul (2019) and Amphan & Nisarga (2020). Due to this, in recent years, the loss of life has been drastically reduced, being limited to double digit figures only,” it has said.

According to “Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region”, a report of the MoES released earlier this year, from 1950 onwards there has been a significant rising trend in the frequency and intensity of extreme heavy rainfall events over central India along with a decreasing trend in the moderate rain events.

A study published in Nature journal in 2017 by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) has concluded that three-fold rise in extreme rains along the west coast and central India between 1950 and 2015.



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