Friday, July 31, 2009

Uncertainties surround future monsoons

Navin Singh Khadka in the BBC: It is almost halfway through the rainy season, and the monsoon in many parts of South Asia continues to remain unreliable. In some places it has been crippling weak, while in others it has been devastatingly intense.

There are places reeling from drought, yet at the same time there are areas that have been hit by torrential rains, triggering floods and landslides in a very short span of time. This has made the lives of millions of people difficult and has left them increasingly worried for the future.

Very little of the arable land is irrigated, and local populations depend on monsoon rainfall for agriculture. The monsoon clouds have weakened in several parts of the region and the variable and erratic rains have left weather forecasters scratching their heads.

This failure of the monsoons to behave as expected has led to the question of whether climate change is to blame. Experts differ on whether these changes are directly linked to climate.

"This year's monsoon behaviour cannot yet be attributed to climate change as it is still within the observed natural variability of monsoon," said Krishna Kumar Kanikicharla, a scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology. "Our assessment of climate model simulations for the current and the next century indicate no significant deviation until the middle of the 21st Century and thereafter the monsoon rainfall will continue to increase by 8-10% from current levels."…

A monsoon inundates a stretch of the Linking Road in Mumbai, shot by PlaneMad, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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