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Higher rate of warming recorded over Hindukush Himalayas and Indian Ocean

During the years ahead in this century, the latest IPCC projections indicate a rise in heavy precipitation events along the Hindukush Himalayas and the over Tibetan Plateau, which will add in further pushing up the snowline elevations.

Written by Anjali Marar | Pune |
Updated: August 10, 2021 7:50:43 am
Higher rate of warming recorded over Hindukush Himalayas and Indian OceanThe Himalayas are important in regulating land-ocean temperatures, which then define the season's rainfall mainly over India. (File photo)

SINCE THE 1970s, the Hindukush Himalayas have undergone warming at a higher rate than other mountainous and high altitude regions in the world, thereby suffering significant loss to its ice mass, the 6th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released on Monday, stated.

“There has been a greater warming over the Hindukush Himalayas with fast depleting snow cover and retreating glaciers,” said R Krishnan, executive director, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.

He is the lead author on the chapter on water cycle and its changes in this report.

On the contrary, the snow cover along the Karakoram Himalayas also in the Tibetan Plateau region was found to have remained in a balanced state during the same period.

“The glacial cover in the Karakoram Himalayas was found to be stable and has even to have gained snow mass,” added Krishnan.

During the years ahead in this century, the latest IPCC projections indicate a rise in heavy precipitation events along the Hindukush Himalayas and the over Tibetan Plateau, which will add in further pushing up the snowline elevations.

The Himalayas are important in regulating land-ocean temperatures, which then define the season’s rainfall mainly over India.

The monsoons, during the upcoming decades, over South Asia region, including India, are going to showcase greater inter-annual variability along with an increase in precipitation during the June to September season.

The climate scientists have further warned that the large-scale global-ocean atmospheric phenomenon like El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), too, will rise to extreme values towards the end of the 21st century.

ENSO — El Nino and La Nina are the abnormal warming and cooling, respectively, of the equatorial Pacific Ocean and influence the monsoon rainfall over India. Generally, during El Nino years, the rainfall over India is below normal as recorded during 2014 and 2015 in recent years.

Similarly, IOD is warming recorded along the Indian Ocean, yet another influencing factor for India’s monsoon.

“There is no significant impact of the ENSO and IOD expected in the immediate 20 or 30 years. Being natural variability drivers, they will however respond to the rising temperatures which will in turn affect the mean temperature values of the Pacific Ocean. Towards the end of the 21st century, we expect ENSO and IOD to reach extreme values triggering an increase in the overall rainfall,” said Swapna Panickal, lead author of the chapter titled ‘Future Global Climate’ in the 6th IPCC report.

Panickal also pointed out that it was the Indian Ocean which was warming at a significantly higher rate than the other three oceans.

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