Kochi vulnerable to extreme climate events, say experts

Scientists say Arabian Sea temperatures are rising at a fast rate and this is likely to cause cyclones, heavy rain and sea level rise.   | Photo Credit: File photo

The chances of multiple extreme climate events overlapping were high for cities such as Kochi as the sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that the coastline will face significant threats from rising seas, according to experts.

“This is particularly important for Kochi because the Arabian Sea temperatures are warming at the fastest rate. We are already seeing its impacts in terms of cyclones, heavy rains and sea level rise,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, and contributor to the recent IPCC reports.

Dr. Koll said that the sea level along the coast of Kochi was increasing on par with the global sea level rates, at above 3 cm per decade. “A 3 cm per decade of sea level rise is equivalent to a disproportionate 17 metres of land carved away from the coast every decade, considering the slope along the coastal zone,” he said.

Suggesting that any further planning of the city should be done only after analysing the risks from such extreme weather events, Dr. Koll said that increased temperatures and moisture together with urbanisation might increase the heat stress and humidity even though Kochi was not yet a hotspot for heatwaves. “Urbanisation also increases the chances of floods since the flood plains and natural defences are decreasing,” he said. Ajil Kottayil, scientist at the Advanced Centre for Atmospheric Radar Research at the Cochin University of Science and Technology, said that the climate report presents an accelerated climate change scenario, signalling the need to embark on strategies that would help us to adapt to extreme weather conditions.

“The carbon dioxide concentration will double that of pre-industrial times in a span of 50 years at the current rate of increase in C02 concentration. In such a case, the expected regional mean sea level could exceed 3 mm/year. Kerala would then be forced to face two calamities simultaneously, the rise in sea levels accompanied by extreme rainfall as a consequence of intensified hydrological cycle,” he said.

Dr. Kottayil said that the sixth assessment report called for regional preparedness and long-term sustainable measures that could equip Kerala in the wake of climate catastrophes.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 12:17:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/kochi-vulnerable-to-extreme-climate-events-say-experts/article35866597.ece

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