North-East’s climate change vulnerability to be mapped

North-East’s climate change vulnerability to be mapped

New Delhi: In the first study of its kind, a group of scientists will map climate change vulnerability in all the north-eastern states of India.

The study, to be completed by end-July, will focus on threats to agriculture, forestry, water and livelihood resulting from climate change in the fragile region.

The study will be conducted jointly by scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore, Jadavpur University, the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, and the North Eastern Hill University in Shillong.

The vulnerability matrices will be handed over to the local district administrations.

“District administration and project managers can really use this information for agricultural, forestry and watershed plans," said N.H. Ravindranath, a member of the study team and a professor at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies, IISc, Bangalore.

The states—Assam, Sikkim, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nagaland—will be marked on a scale of one to five.

Several states are already formulating their own strategies to battle the adverse effects of climate change, as reported by Mint on 31 May. The north-eastern states are not among these.

The region is already experiencing huge variability in monsoon patterns.

“For instance, precipitation variation in the region ranges from 25-45%, which is very high (the normal range is 5-10%). Therefore, the farmers in the region are already stressed," said Ravindranath.

A 2006 study published in the journal Science has predicted that extreme events—such as rainfall of more than 150mm in a day—will increase 38% by 2050.

The north-eastern states will also be measured in terms of their adaptive capacity to estimated changes.

“Adaptive capacity will look at investment capacity and capital asset building in the states, such as roads and bridges, connectivity and disaster and evacuation plans," said Joyashree Roy, another member of the study team and an environmental economist at Jadavpur University.

With the uncertainty and pessimism surrounding international negotiations on climate change, Ravindranath says adaptation is key.

“We can’t bank on mitigation. The US and China are both reluctant to act on emission mitigation. Adaption would be our only option. And it won’t be cheap," he said.