Coimbatore

‘Fewer, sharper showers becoming a norm in the Nilgiris due to climate change’

Scientists say that global warming could definitely be one of the main factors driving the changing rainfall patterns in the Nilgiris.

Scientists say that global warming could definitely be one of the main factors driving the changing rainfall patterns in the Nilgiris.   | Photo Credit: M_Sathyamoorthy

In previous years, the rain was spread over an average of 120 days in Ooty. This year, it was just 85 days

In what could be a sign of the impact of climate change in the Nilgiris, analysis of rainfall patterns has shown that while the number of ‘rainy days’ has significantly decreased over the last six decades, the intensity of rain has also correspondingly increased, leading to ecological damage and impacting agriculture.

The analysis, done by the ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation (IISWC) in Udhagamandalam, has shown that 2019 was one of the wettest years on record, but strangely, had a few number of ‘rainy days’ when compared with the average.

The statistics show that Udhagamandalam received 1,539 mm throughout the year, which was 28.25 % more than the average recorded over previous years.

Source of concern

However, what should be a bigger source of concern, say scientists, is that while in previous years the rain was spread over an average of 120 days, the rain this year in Udhagamandalam was spread over just 85 days, signifying a higher intensity of rain.

K. Kannan, Principal Scientist and Head of the Udhagamandalam station of the ICAR-IISWC, said the analysis of rainfall data stretching back more than six decades revealed that the number of ‘rainy days’ had significantly decreased in the years since. “Initially, we see records of rainfall being recorded for more than 170 days each year, and though the amount of rainfall has largely remained the same, the average number of ‘rainy days’ over the last decade has come down to just 90,” said Mr. Kannan, who added that similar rainfall patterns were being seen across the Nilgiris.

Though the scientists confess that they are unable to pin down a direct correlation between climate change and rainfall patterns in the district, they feel that global warming could definitely be one of the main factors driving the changing rainfall patterns.

“We do get extremely wet years like 2019, and droughts like in 2015, where Udhagamandalam received rain for only 45 days, pointing to a very unstable pattern of rainfall, marked by floods one year, and drought the next,” said Mr. Kannan.

He added that while only planet-wide changes to global greenhouse emissions could reverse the trend of fewer, intense showers in the Nilgiris, he pointed out that the rainfall pattern analysis showed that strategies to mitigate the effect of climate change needed to be implemented to better cope with the changing climate.

Terrace farming

“For instance, agricultural engineering techniques such as terrace farming is one way of protecting farmers against intense rain showers, while ensuring water-saving measures for use in times of drought could be another,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 3:37:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/fewer-sharper-showers-becoming-a-norm-in-the-nilgiris-due-to-climate-change/article30323770.ece

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