Sunday, September 7, 2008

‘Mumbai, Chennai in danger of being swallowed up by sea’

Daily Times (Pakistan): Coastal cities like Mumbai and Chennai could be in danger of being submerged by the sea, according to a global warming and climate change scenario sketched by India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences. India is among 27 countries identified by the United Nations Environment Programme as most vulnerable to sea-level rise, the ministry warns that low-level areas, such as Orissa and West Bengal, could be vulnerable to inundation. It says a small variable rise in temperature could reduce the ocean’s absorption capability and play “much larger havoc than manmade changes”.

The ministry says analysis of past tide gauge records for Indian coastline regions gave an estimate sea-level rise of 1.30 mm per year, while a significant increase of around 4 mm per year was indicated in future global projections.

Droughts, rains: “Simulations with climate models and observational data have indicated that droughts and spells of excessive rain like the deluge that struck Mumbai in 2005 are likely to become more frequent in India,” says the ministry in a report.

It paints a scenario of a major population shift from the coastal cities to other large urban settlements, adding, “This would lead to already burdened cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Pune and Hyderabad accommodating enormous numbers of migrants from the coasts.”

…It says the projected impact of climate change on Indian agriculture is equally “very disturbing”. It says productivity of most cereals will decrease due to an increase in temperature and decrease in water availability, especially in the Indo-Gangetic plains.

“An increase in climatic extremes - droughts and floods - is likely to increase production variability. The predicted impact on human health due to climate change includes increase in temperature-related illnesses, vector borne diseases like malaria, impact of extreme weather events and food insecurity. The poor, elderly, children and disabled are likely to be most vulnerable to these changes, as they already face limited access to health facilities,” says the ministry….

Chennai seen from space, NASA, Wikimedia Commons

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