Cyclones getting fiercer; account for nearly half of India’s deaths due to climate-related disasters

23rd October, 2022.      //   Climate Change  // 

Frequency of very severe cyclonic storms during the post-monsoon season has increased by 1 event per a decade

The Indian east coast is bracing for the first tropical cyclone of the 2022 post-monsoon season. Once it forms, it will be called Sitrang.

West Bengal, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh have set in cyclone preparedness operations along the Bay of Bengal shore.

Indian coasts are not new to cyclones: Two-three cyclones hit the country every season, on an average, and at least one turns out to be severe, going by data from the National Disaster Management Institute (NDMI).

Climate change has impacted the frequency and ferociousness of cyclones in the region like elsewhere in the world.

Here’s A low-down on the changing characters of cyclones in India and how they are damaging more now:

  • Cyclones affect 11 of India’s 36 states and Union territories, found an NDMI study Mapping Climatic and Biological Disasters in India.
    There are 96 districts along the coasts officially declared cyclone-prone.
  • Cyclone hazard proneness is very high for districts Nellore, East Godavari and Krishna (Andhra Pradesh); Yanam (Puducherry); Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur (Odisha); South and North 24 Parganas, Medinipur and Kolkata (West Bengal) – NDMI; It is high for other coastal districts of these  states as well as Tamil Nadu.
  • Bay of Bengal is the theatre to more cyclones than Arabian Sea. Andhra Pradesh has been hit the most (1995-2020), followed by Tamil Nadu, Odisha and West Bengal. On the western coast, Maharashtra suffered the maximum, followed by Gujarat – NDMI.
  • Odisha endured the most cyclones (20) more recently — 2006-2020, when 61 cyclones hit nine states. West Bengal suffered 14 and Andhra 11, according to a study by researchers from the University of Central Lancashire, UK, the Central University of Tamil Nadu and the University of the West of England.
  • “Cyclones accounted for 48% of India’s overall human life loss due to climate-related disasters, followed by heat waves (26 per cent), 18 per cent due to floods and 8 per cent due to cold waves,” – NDMI study. Odisha had the highest toll.
  • Due to increase in sea surface temperature and ocean heat content, intensity of cyclones is increasing along Indian coasts.
    “Annual frequency of cyclones significantly reduced from 1951-2018; however, frequency of Very Severe Cyclonic Storms during post-monsoon season increased significantly,” according to the study by the researchers from the University Of Central Lancashire, UK, the Central University of Tamil Nadu and the University of the West of England, UK.
  • Frequency is rising in Arabian Sea and reducing in the Bay of Bengal, overall. Pre-monsoon frequency is coming down on both sides.
  • Since the middle of the 20th century (1951-2018), the frequency of very severe cyclonic storms during the post-monsoon season has increased significantly. During 2000-2018, the frequency of severe cyclone has been increasing at the rate of 1 event per decade. 

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