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‘Rising CO2 levels may double floods, storms’

Submerged houses in Kerala, during the rains in 2019.Thulasi KakkatThulasi Kakkat

Submerged houses in Kerala, during the rains in 2019.Thulasi KakkatThulasi Kakkat  

The risk of extreme floods or storms could double every 13 years at the rate carbon-dioxide concentrations are building up in the atmosphere. This could spell a “catastrophe” for India, scientists have warned in a study.

The number of intense “hydro-meteorological” disasters could increase by 5.4% annually for an “average” country facing annually nearly one “extreme disaster” (defined as one that causes 100 or more fatalities and/or affects 1,000 or more people).

India faces 5-10 times as many extreme events as the average country, the authors say. “One more extreme event in India [such as the Kerala floods of 2018 that killed at least 400] would strain the ability of the country to cope; a doubling of the numbers in 13 years, using the above estimation, would be catastrophic,” authors Ramon E. Lopez, Vinod Thomas and Pablo A. Troncoso write in a note accompanying the study. The report, Impacts of Carbon Dioxide Emissions on Global Intense Hydro-meteorological Disasters, appears in the January issue of Climate, Disaster and Development Journal .

The authors relied on econometric modelling which, they say, complements the traditional approach of climate modelling to explore the factors that have contributed to the increase in the frequency of flood and storm events.

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