07 February 2010

2009 is claimed to be hottest year of India ever. Temperature was one degree over average temperature

Officially 2009 was recorded as the hottest year in India, infact almost a degree warmer than usual. Also according to the Indian Meteorological Department winter and monsoon of 2009 have been warmest.

The annual mean temperature for 2009 was 25.55 degrees Celsius, 0.913 degrees higher than the long-term annual average of 24.64 degrees Celsius.Interestingly, of the 12 hottest years in the 108 years since 1901, when the Met department started maintaining temperature records, 8 have been in the past decade. This is in keeping with the global trend of the last decade being the warmest on record. 

Data available with the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) also indicates that it was in fact the winter and monsoon seasons in 2009 that have been the warmest ever. "Abnormally warm conditions prevailed over major parts of the country during the winter season. Temperature over (the) hilly regions of the western Himalayas was 3-5 degrees Celsius above normal in the second fortnight of January, while in February the mean temperature over almost the entire country was above normal. However, there were cold wave conditions on a few occasions in Uttar Pradesh in January," said an IMD report. IMD director-general Ajit Tyagi told TOI that the mean maximum and minimum temperatures of September were the highest in the past five years, while January and August recorded the highest mean temperatures since 1901. "If one analyses the trend, it is evident that global warming is taking place, the rise in temperatures becoming apparent since about 1990. In India, 2009 was specially warm due to several factors, the main among them being the fact that there was a deficiency in rainfall in both monsoon and winter," he said. 

The data, if not just IMD's claim, is verified by senior government officials, who say that in the past 20 years, there has not been even a single year in which the average temperatures have been below normal. 

"We are seeing a global trend being reflected in India's case. In the global arena, of the 12 hottest years in the century, 11 have been in the past two decades. In the past 100 years, there has been a rise of 0.74 degrees globally though India has seen a rise of 0.5 degrees in comparison," said a senior official. 

SK Dash, professor at IIT-Delhi, who co-authored a paper in the journal Current Science in 2007, along with Lord Hunt, also agrees that warming is an evident phenomenon though there is a huge amount of uncertainty about whether this is a trend or only a periodic fluctuation and what the reasons for it are. "We analysed the temperature trend according to regions and found an increase of between 0.2 degrees and 1 degree in maximum temperatures across the country. The coastal regions probably recorded the most increase. However, it is difficult to differentiate between natural warming and human contribution," he said.

Sources also point out that the changes in weather have not been common across the country, a point brought out also by the IMD's report, which says that "a significant positive trend in temperatures was observed over most parts of the country except over some parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Bihar, where significant decreasing trends were observed". 

Officials also say that this decrease in mean temperatures over some regions is why India's increase in average temperatures has been less than the increase in global averages. "The fall in temperatures in areas like Rajasthan and Gujarat is because of a huge amount of dust in the atmosphere which reflects the sun's radiation. In Bihar, where only a small area has seen a fall in temperatures, it could be because of a lot of greenery. However, the variation in weather phenomena over the country is also reflected in the monsoon. 

In 2009, while the overall monsoon for the country was 78% of average, several areas in central and northwest India experienced drought-like conditions. While rainfall has not decreased, the number of rainy days has gone down, indicating heavy rain on some days. This spells trouble for our agriculture," said a government official.

[ src: TOI]
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