[NEW DELHI] South Asian countries sorely lack the long-term data needed to ascertain climate change impacts, a leading non-governmental organisation has said.
"Impacts need long-term data to corroborate future trends, but these do not exist," Sunita Narain, director of the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, said at a media workshop on climate change last week (24 November).
"South Asian countries are witnessing extreme rainfall events, for example, fewer rainy days but more rain on the days when it does rain; cloud bursts; and unseasonable [heavy] rain," she said. "We are also beginning to see some intensification of tropical cyclones."
The Centre for Climate Change Research (CCCR) at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology is among institutions that have begun work on bridging the data gap.
As part of its short-term goals, the centre is working on ultra-high resolution regional climate models to zoom in on the Indian sub-continent, R. Krishnan, a researcher at the CCCR, said at the workshop.
The CCCR is also developing a global high-resolution earth systems model (ESM) for long-term projections of regional climate change by setting up a high-altitude cloud physics laboratory and reconstructing past monsoon behaviour over a few thousand years.
CCCR scientists will begin with the global climate and monsoon models.
The ESM is expected to address current scientific challenges in global climate models and the Asian monsoon system, Krishnan said.
One puzzle for Indian scientists is the rise in sea level along the Indian Ocean.
Sateesh Shenoi, director of the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, Hyderabad, said that average global sea-level rise from 1950 to 2000 was 1.8 millimetres per year, but this reached 3.3 millimetres from 1993 to 2005.
This rise has been slowing down since 2004. But in the Indian Ocean, a higher sea-level rise was recorded for 2004-2009, Shenoi said.
Last month (16 November), India's ministry of environment and forests released an assessment of climate change impacts in four sectors of the Indian economy — agriculture, water, natural ecosystems and biodiversity.
Focused on four climate change-sensitive regions — the Himalayas, the Western Ghats, coastal areas and the northeast — the assessment predicted, with respect to 2030, a net increase in annual temperatures of between 1.7 degrees Celsius and 2.2 degrees Celsius.