New Delhi: The last decade was India’s hottest on record with the weather office calling the impact of global warming “unmistakable” and extreme weather killing more than 1,500 people last year.
India, home to 1.3 billion people, is at the forefront of climate change suffering devastating floods, dire water shortages and baking temperatures. The southern city of Chennai last year declared “day zero” as taps ran dry.
Temperatures between 2010 and 2019 were 0.36°C above the long-term average, the hottest decade since records began in 1901, the Indian Meteorological Department said Monday.
Extreme weather also claimed more than 1,500 lives last year, the seventh-hottest, the IMD said.
They included 850 people killed by heavy rain and flooding and another 350 in summer temperatures of up to 51 Celsius (123.8 Fahrenheit). Lighting and storms claimed another 380 lives.
India’s five warmest years on record all fell in the last decade, with 2016 the hottest. Eleven of the 15 warmest years were also during the past 15 years, the IMD said. The average for 2019 would have been higher was it not for record cold in northern India in December.
The five warmest years on record are 2016 (+0.71°C), 2009 (+0.541°C), 2017 (+0.539°C), 2010 (+0.54°C) and 2015 (+0.42°C).
Last year also saw eight cyclones form over the north Indian Ocean, below the record of 10 last reached in 1976, including five over the Arabian Sea, equalling the previous high of 1902, the IMD said.
The annual rainfall in 2019 over the country as a whole was 109 per cent of its long period average (LPA) value for the period 1961-2010.
The IMD said the country also experienced other high impact weather events like extremely heavy rainfall, heat and cold waves, snowfall, thunderstorm, dust storm, lightning and floods.
Heavy rain and flood related incidents reportedly claimed over 850 lives from different parts of the country during the pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon seasons.
Of these, 306 lives were reported from Bihar alone, 136 from Maharashtra, 107 from Uttar Pradesh, 88 from Kerala, 80 from Rajasthan and 43 from Karnataka.
“The impact of global warming on India is unmistakable,” IMD chief Mrityunjay Mohapatra told the Times of India. “The past year had extreme weather during all seasons.”
The United Nations said in December that the past decade was set to be the planet’s hottest since records began. Each of the last four decades has been hotter than the preceding one.
Lightning and thunderstorm reportedly claimed over 380 lives from central, northeastern, northwestern and peninsular parts of the country during pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon seasons.
Of these, 125 lives were reported from Jharkhand, 73 from Bihar, 51 from Maharashtra and 24 each from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Snowfall and avalanche related incidents claimed 33 lives from Jammu and Kashmir and 18 from Leh.
Cold wave claimed 28 lives from different parts of Uttar Pradesh during last week of December, it said.