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Business News/ News / Climate change in India: Himalayas to see year-long drought, plains to witness floods if global warming is not checked
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Climate change in India: Himalayas to see year-long drought, plains to witness floods if global warming is not checked

A new study warns of lasting drought in the Himalayan region with 3 degrees Celsius of global warming, highlighting increased risks to human and natural systems at a national scale.

The Himalayan glaciers provide water to over a billion people in Asia. However, experts suggest that they are melting at an alarming rate, threatening to bring drought to large swathes of the continent within decades. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)Premium
The Himalayan glaciers provide water to over a billion people in Asia. However, experts suggest that they are melting at an alarming rate, threatening to bring drought to large swathes of the continent within decades. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

The Himalayan region is set to witness lasting drought for over a year if global temperatures increase by 3 degrees Celsius, reveals a new study.

A team led by researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK revealed new findings about climate in the Himalayan region. The study, published in the journal Climatic Change, focuses on 'climate change' and details the increasing risks to human and natural systems at a national scale as the level of global warming increases.

Also read: Climate change: Why Indians should look at home insurance more seriously

The report comprises a collection of eight studies. Focused on India, Brazil, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Ghana, it shows that the risks of drought, flooding, decline in crop yields and loss of biodiversity and natural capital greatly increase with each additional degree of global warming.

Also read: 1.5 Degrees: A Tiny Number With a Global Effect

The study predicts that about 90 per cent of the Himalayan region will experience drought that may last for more than a year if global warming increases by 3 degrees Celsius. 

The team of researchers found a large increase in the exposure of agricultural land to drought conditions with 3 degrees Celsius warming. The report highlighted that over 50 per cent of the agricultural land in each of the countries investigated has been projected to be exposed to severe droughts spanning more than a year over a period of 30 years.

Also read: Climate change is putting the food security of India at threat

The report further suggests that 80 per cent of the increased human exposure to heat stress in India can be avoided. This heat exposure can possibly be evaded by adhering to the Paris Agreement's temperature goals by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to 3 degrees Celsius warming. Additionally, human exposure to severe drought can be reduced by 20 to 80 per cent at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

It was observed that pollination is reduced to half in India with 3-4 degrees global warming compared with a quarter reduction of 1.5 degrees. Hence, the study calls for limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius which would permit half the country to act as a refuge for biodiversity, compared with 6 per cent at 3 degrees.

Thus, exposure of agricultural land to drought could be reduced by 21 per cent in India and 61 per cent in Ethiopia by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

A reduction in global warming is also set to reduce economic damages caused by fluvial flooding, one of the impacts of climate change. This brings no surprise to the report's claims that economic damages associated with sea-level rise would increase in coastal nations with increasing global warming.

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Published: 29 Feb 2024, 02:47 PM IST
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