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[NEW DELHI] One of India's leading climate change scientists says the country needs to address the impact of climate change on its agriculture, water resources and health "right away", as projected temperature rise will far exceed the increase in rainfall by the end of the century.

If India makes no efforts to cap its current emissions of greenhouse gases — such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide that trap heat and cause temperatures to rise — then the country could face a temperature increase of four degrees Celsius by 2100, said Kankicharla Krishna Kumar, head of the new climate change research centre at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM).

But there will be no matching increase in monsoon rainfall until 2040, he told the 74th annual meeting of the Indian Academy of Sciences, in Delhi last week (1 November).

Kumar's warning is based on projections by regional climate change models developed at IITM.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has projected India will become hotter and wetter by the end of the century due to global warming (see India predicts suffering from climate change).

But Krishna Kumar cautions that the expected benefits of rainfall "will be nullified" by the rise in temperature; and higher day and night temperatures over the country will impact its crops, water resources, ground water supplies and health issues such as heat stroke and extension of malaria-prone areas.

He also referred to a previous analysis by scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, which shows a link between droughts and a fall in the country's food production and gross national product.

"Studies have shown that even a one degree rise in temperature can cause a ten per cent reduction in [crop] yield. And we are talking about three degrees change expected in future in India," he said.

Kumar said that India needs to continuously improve its climate change forecast models, given there are unaddressed uncertainties and biases in existing models.

These include uncertainties about projected greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations, as well as the influence of haze or smog over northern India during winter — a factor which has not yet been considered.

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