2015: Warmest year ends on ‘warm note’

New Delhi:The last day of the warmest year ever recorded, and perhaps also the “rockiest” given the number of quakes that rattled the region, did not disappoint. Missing the bite of a conventional December day, the last day of the year ended more or less as a balmy, comfortable day.

If the IMD forecast is any indication, the trend is expected to continue into the New Year as well. India’s official weather forecaster sees no change in temperatures over northwest and central India, at least for the next couple of days. 

Notably, some international forecasters have already predicted that 2016 will break the record of 2015 – the year United Nations declared as the hottest year without even waiting for it to end.

While the “warmest year” since records started being maintained 135 years ago saw the world finally getting a climate agreement with a commitment to keep the rise in global temperatures “well below” 2 degrees C compared to pre-industrial times — and striving to limit it to even 1.5 degrees, 2015 is expected to be succeeded by another record-breaker.

According to reports, 2016 is expected to be the hottest year ever recorded on the back of prevailing El Nino conditions and ongoing climate change. Quoting the UK Met Office, they say the global average temperature for next year is expected to be between 0.72 degrees C and 0.96 degrees C, above the long-term (between 1961 and 1990) average of 14 degrees C.

In other words, the trend that started with 2014 will continue into 2016, making it three consecutive years of hot weather.  

According to IMD chief LS Rathore, past 15 years have seen a gradual increase in temperatures across India as well. “Every year, the previous year’s temperature records are being broken. Emissions of the greenhouse gases is leading to higher sea surface and air temperatures,” he says.

Over the past few days minimum temperatures have been below normal by 2 to ­4 degrees C over Rayalaseema, South Interior Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu, says the IMD.

In majority of places, however, they are above normal by 3 to 6 degrees C for instance in Rajasthan, West Madhya Pradesh and the Gujarat region, East Madhya Pradesh, Saurashtra and Kutch, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Vidarbha, Madhya Maharashtra and northeastern states.

No significant change in minimum temperature is expected over plains of northwest and central India during next two to three days, says the IMD.

While terminal rainfall during the southwest monsoon was inadequate leading to low residual moisture in the soil, there have been no rains in North India after monsoon.

Even though irrigated lands of northwest will still be able to cope with the challenge, the lack of moisture in soil and deteriorating water tables will remain a concern. Maximum stress will be felt by farmers of rain-fed areas.

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