Sonum Lotus on Hot Summer, Cloudbursts: ‘Weather Extremes Increasing’

Sonum Lotus

AFTER extreme winter, as summer is becoming unbearable in Kashmir, weatherman Sonum Lotus blames the rising average temperature across the globe for the soaring mercury in mountains.

At the same time, the erratic rainfall and cloudbursts have posed added weather challenges in the valley.

However, delinking frequent cloudbursts from climate change, the weatherman said, “Today, people report every intense shower as a cloudburst without verification. This is sad. All cloudbursts don’t cause damage. The impact of all extreme weather events depends on vulnerability.”

Accurate weather forecasts are of utmost importance today, he said, “So that no severe weather goes undetected and becomes pernicious for the precious life.”

In an interview with Kashmir Observer, Sonum Lotus talks about the increasing weather extremes and how people have to learn to live with it.

Kashmir is witnessing unusual weather changes since the last few years. Is climatic change in full swing?

Yes, climate is changing due to increased emission of toxic greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by various human activities like automobiles, burning of fossil fuel, big industries, etc.

But Kashmir weather behaves erratically compared to Ladakh and Jammu now. What can be the reason?

See, weather behaves erratically, especially from April-August, not only in Kashmir, but in entire J&K and Ladakh.

The reason for erratic behaviour of weather in these months is due to high temperature, which suddenly helps in development of localised thunderstorms, rain, wind, etc at a particular place.

Kashmir is witnessing hot summer first time in years.

Is rising temperature in the valley more vulnerable to climate change? And what will be its direct effect?

Yes, rising temperature is the main reason behind global warming which modifies climate across the world because the atmosphere is free and weather sees no boundaries.

While its impacts are both positive and negative, the latter is more alarming and needs urgent action at policy level.

After extreme winter this year, Kashmir is now witnessing hot summer. This heat accelerates faster melting of glaciers leading to mudslides and flashfloods with a brief spell of shower.

Weather extremes are increasing. It’s real and we’ve to learn to live with it and build the capacity of our people, especially the poor and the vulnerable ones.

With Srinagar lately recording its hottest July day in the last 8 years, do we have to brace up for hotter seasons in coming years?

See, the average temperature is rising across the globe, not only in Kashmir. That’s why there’s so much debate, concerns shown by all countries, developed or developing economies.

Erratic rainfall is termed as a sign of a changing weather pattern.

But the valley is also witnessing more rainfall.

I don’t think so. Research shows no significant changes in average monthly or annual precipitation—but yes, intensity and frequency of extreme precipitation has increased which is in line with the IPCC report on climate change.

What about cloudbursts? Why do they occur usually in Kashmir now?

Technically speaking, a cloudburst means very intense heavy rainfall of the order of 100mm/hour over a particular place. It generally occurs in hilly terrain and very rarely in plains.

A very important point I want to highlight here is: today, people report every intense shower as a cloudburst without verification. This is sad. Not every cloudburst causes damage.

For example, a recent cloudburst in Jammu didn’t cause any major damage.

So the impact of all extreme weather events depends on vulnerability.

But has your department conducted any study regarding frequent cloudbursts and flash-floods in J&K?

It’s really challenging to keep a record of cloudbursts as they happen in mountainous areas where it’s difficult to keep men and machines.

But yes, for over a decade now, we’ve been archiving records of the flashflood.

Cloudburst

But does your department lack infrastructure?

See, J&K has 10 Manual Surface observatories, 14 Automatic Rain gauges, 22 Automatic Weather stations and two Doppler Radars.

We’re monitoring weather 24*7 basis from Space Satellite which is our eyes from space.

Infrastructure development, let me tell you, is a continuous process, with no end and limit.

Lastly, how and why is it important for people to have accurate weather updates these days?

Weather affects everyone under the sky, so accurate weather forecasts are of utmost importance. Our endeavor, in this regard, is to provide the best and tailor-made weather forecast to the people — so that no severe weather goes undetected and becomes pernicious for the precious life.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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