Scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, are likely to unveil in December a computerised model that can forecast the impact of climate change on the Indian monsoon until 2100.
This model is significant because it is the first time India will be submitting a home-grown assessment to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body convened by the United Nations, and hugely influential to policymakers and governments on the risks posed by climate change. A test version of the model is already available on websites of research groups affiliated to the IPCC.
The IPCC summarises projections from such models, developed by scientists from around the world, to report on the level of consensus, among scientists, of the extent to which specific pollutants and gases — from carbon dioxide to particulate matter — interfere with weather patterns and ocean temperatures.
So far, IITM scientists have customised significant parts of a model, called CFS 2 (Climate Forecast System version 2) and used it to give three month forecasts of the Indian monsoon, to project how the it will be altered by climate change over the next century.
To be viable, the model has to first reasonably simulate land and ocean temperatures that existed in the 1850s, or before the carbon dioxide-spewing Industrial Revolution, and also capture droughts and floods in the years up to the present.
“It is an extremely difficult job and requires manpower as well extensive processing power,” Acting Director of the IITM R. Krishnan told The Hindu. “Our plan is to first get a low-resolution model working properly and then gradually increase its [resolution].” Higher resolution models better capture changes in weather over smaller regions.
Dr. Krishnan added that India trailed China in developing such models.
The IITM is preparing its models for the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report that is expected to be ready by 2022. There will, however, be an interim IPCC report, in 2018, on the impact of global warming of 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. Nations of the world committed in Paris, in 2015, to endeavour to “…keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C.”