Photo: Hindustan Times
Photo: Hindustan Times

Scientists to study climate change impact on Kerala

The 3-year project, which has an estimated budget of 79 crore, would involve more than 50 scientists who would study climate change in the state and suggest adaptation measures

New Delhi: CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication And Information Resources (NISCAIR), Delhi, under the ministry of science and technology, has proposed to the ministry of earth sciences a project to study the impact of climate change in Kerala, as the coastal state struggles to rebuild itself after the devastating floods in August.

The three-year project, which has an estimated budget of 79 crore, would involve more than 50 scientists from several research institutions including the Indian Institutes of Technology, laboratories of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the National Institute of Oceanography, Cochin University of Science and Technology, and University of Calcutta, who would study climate change in the state and suggest adaptation measures.

“Effects of climate change are slowly becoming evident and the situation has been compounded after the recent floods in Kerala, which were the worst in the century," said professor J. Sundaresan Pillai, head, climate change informatics, CSIR-NISCAIR and principal investigator of the project.

“Climate change cannot be prevented. We can only devise ways to adapt to it as early as possible. This is one such study to suggest such mitigation options for Kerala," said Pillai.

The scientists would analyse the impact of climate change on sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, industries, health, transport, tourism and forests.

The researchers would study variations in monsoons and their impact on the state, specifically extreme weather events, and also examine changes in water resources and dynamics of the rivers.

“Kerala has a unique climate. It witnesses roughly six months of rain in a year and some rare phenomenon, such as the mud banks that appear every year during the southwest monsoon," said Pillai, who led the VACCIN project for developing climate mitigation plan for coastal systems and islands in Lakshadweep in 2015.

The project would also involve using Continuous Plankton Recorders (CPRs) in the Arabian Sea to understand the migration of fishes because of the rise in seawater temperatures, which can also affect the livelihood of people in years to come. This is more so as recent research has shown that climate change is forcing fishes to migrate faster in search of colder waters.

The scientists would create specific measures for Kerala, taking into consideration the likely effects of climate change on existing road infrastructure and ways to adapt road construction along with identifying landslide-prone hills along state highways.

Vulnerability assessment of coastal areas would be done with the help from scientists from CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, who would also demarcate vulnerable regions in wake of rise in sea-water levels.

“It would be a long-term study. The project heavily relies on cooperation from local people and local bodies in adopting appropriate measures in development activities," said Pillai, who is also the principal investigator of the project.