Temperature Set To Head North

Summer and winter minimum temperatures across the northern states of India are projected to rise, finds study

Climate change projections in the 2030s as part of a new study indicate overall warming of both summer and winter minimum temperatures in the northern states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh over the next three decades compared to the historical period (1990–2019). The study also predicts an increase in the number of rainy days (>2.5 mm rainfall/day), and an increase in the number of heavy rainfall events across almost all the districts of the northern states.

The projected increase in the winter minimum temperature is comparatively higher than the increase in the summer maximum temperature in almost all northern states. The summer maximum temperature is projected to increase by 1°C to 1.5°C, and the winter minimum temperature is projected to increase by 1°C to 2°C in a majority of the districts of northern India.

The number of rainy days is projected to increase in the 2030s in all the districts of northern India compared to the historical period. The increase is by 1 to 15 days under the RCP 4.5 scenario, with the maximum increase projected in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh and a minimum increase projected in Himachal Pradesh.

Rainfall during kharif (June to September) and rabi (October to December) seasons are projected to increase in the 2030s in all the districts of northern India compared to the historical period. The projected increase in the kharif season rainfall is by 2% to 39% under the RCP 4.5 scenario and 5% to 46% under the RCP 8.5 scenario. The maximum increase in the kharif season rainfall is projected in the districts of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

Meanwhile, an increase in high-intensity (51–100 mm/day) and very high-intensity (>100 mm/day) rainfall events is projected in the 2030s across all districts of northern India compared to the historical period. The increase in high-intensity rainfall events per annum is by one to four events under the moderate emissions (RCP 4.5) scenario and one to five events under the high emissions (RCP 8.5) scenario. The increase in very high-intensity rainfall events is largely by one to two or three events under RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 scenarios

The study also predicts a decline in rainfall-deficient years in the 2030s across almost all districts of northern India compared to the historical period. The decline in rainfall deficient years is largely by 1 to 4 years out of the 30 years under RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 scenarios.

It is evident from the study that in the future, the climate in the districts of northern India will be different from the historical climate. This has implications for water availability and management, agriculture, forest and biodiversity, health, and infrastructure. It underpins the need for integrated strategies to combat multiple hazards, floods due to heavy rainfall or dry spells and droughts at other times. Historically, states have focused on drought planning and management, but a wetter future demands plans to integrate flood management.

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