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North India floods killed over 1,900 people this year, says Report

News Agencies | Updated on: 27 December 2019, 10:29 IST

Floods in north India killed 1,900 people this year and forced more than three million out of their homes, according to a new report, which said these weather events reflected trends being driven by climate change.

The global report released on Friday by Christian Aid, a UK-based charity organisation, said the extreme weather events, like cyclone Fani, led to damages of about USD10 billion and uprooted 10 million trees in the country.

"Cyclone Fani was the strongest storm to make landfall in India in over 20 years, hitting India and Bangladesh from May 2 to 4, 2019 with wind speeds up to 200 km/h and led to storm surges of 1.5 metre.

"May and June saw 28 billion US dollar of damage in Asia. Cyclone Fani struck India and Bangladesh, parts of China experienced their highest rainfall for 60 years and in Northern India, a stronger than usual monsoon led to floods that killed 1,900 people," the report said.

It said the floods reflect trends that are being driven by climate change which makes extreme rainfall more common.

"One reason for this is that an atmosphere that is warmer can hold more water vapour. The world has so far heated about 1°C since preindustrial times and, around the world, heavy rainfall has increased," the report said.

It said that in north India, rainstorms have become 50 per cent more common and 80 per cent longer.

"The trend of more unpredictable and extreme rainfall in India reflects what climate scientists predict will happen due to climate change, particularly if emissions do not fall. Another study found that monsoon rainfall will become more unpredictable, with variability increasing up to 50 per cent this century if emissions continue to rise," it said.

The report also said that besides displacing 3.4 million people, Cyclone Fani, which hit India and Bangladesh, uprooted more than 10 million trees in India.

"The storm brought heavy rainfall and flooding, causing widespread damage that killed at least 89 people, mostly in Odisha.

"More than 3.4 million people were displaced, more than 10 million trees were uprooted and, in Odisha alone, 140,000 hectares of crop land were damaged," it said.

Michael Mann, a climate scientist, said the cyclone was just a reminder of the threat that millions of people face due to climate change.

"Fani is just the latest reminder of the heightened threat that millions of people around the world face from the combination of rising seas and more intense hurricanes and typhoons. That threat will only rise if we continue to warm the planet by burning fossil fuels and emitting carbon into the atmosphere," Mr Mann said.

Cyclone Fani reflected the consequences of climate change in several ways, the report said, adding that warmer ocean waters increased the energy available to it, allowing it to build strength, and warmer air temperatures allowed it to hold and then drop more water while sea-level rise increased the storm surge.


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First published: 27 December 2019, 10:17 IST