New Delhi: India’s biggest set of climate studies so far predicts a further rise in sea levels, reduced farm yields and thinner forest covers.
Findings from the studies, released on Wednesday by the environment ministry, will be India’s official submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. All countries submit periodic studies on the impact of climate change on their regions.
India’s previous submission in 1994 was on a smaller scale. At least 150 institutions took part in the studies this time, against 50 earlier.
According to the latest studies, agriculture is among the crucial sectors that would be affected by climate change in the next 50 years.
Sensitive issue: Farmers packing potatoes in West Bengal. It is estimated that a 1 degree Celsius increase in average global temperature will reduce yields of potato, wheat, soyabean, mustard and groundnut by 3-7%. Indranil Bhoumik / Mint
P.K. Aggarwal, head of environmental sciences, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, which participated in the studies, estimates that an increase of 1 degree Celsius in average global temperature will reduce yields of wheat, soyabean, mustard, groundnut and potato by 3-7%.
Though the adverse effects on agriculture are expected to be marginal till 2020, yields are estimated to drop by 10-40% by 2100.
There may be some good news though for chick pea, maize, sorghum, millets and coconut along the west coast, as yields for these might improve. Potato, mustard and vegetable yields in north-western India might incur less loss due to reduced frost damage.
“But the costs of inaction in terms of climate change will be much higher and we need to act now,” Aggarwal said.
The monsoon rains, closely tied to agricultural produce in India, would also suffer from adverse changes in climate. Studies by K. Krishna Kumar, programme manager, climate change, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, forecast fewer rainy days, though of higher intensity.
Both rainfall and temperature will be extreme, the studies predict.
Kumar said that though there would be no significant change in the frequency of cyclonic storms or monsoon depressions, the intensity of future storms would be higher by 10%. “But more simulations are needed to gain confidence in the projected future changes in the finer characteristics of monsoon,” he added.
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh, commenting on the importance of such scientific knowledge on climate, said, “We have to create institutions, give them long-term funding. Most critical are studies on Himalayan glaciers and India has to play a key role in that.”
Other critical projected changes from the studies include the likely disappearance of some endangered species, reduction in forest cover by 15%, and increased flood risks associated with storm surges along India’s south-eastern coast