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Manipur Tops Chart For Largest Change In Net Warming During Winter


Some pockets of the State in Chandel, Churachandpur and Tengnoupal districts bordering Myanmar experienced blistering heat at plus 40 degree Celsius during the past three years where half a century back the maximum summer temperature would fluctuate around 32 degree Celsius

By Salam Rajesh

The small Eastern Himalayan nation state of Manipur, sandwiched between South Asia and Southeast Asia, hogs the national limelight for two quite obvious reasons, the one for significant achievements in national and world sports, and the other for an entirely wrong reason – figuring in the national pollution chart or for topping weather anomalies at the national consideration.

A few years back the short-distance flowing Nambul River, which negotiates through the fairly urbanized capital city of Imphal and which deposits directly into the freshwater Loktak Lake – a Ramsar site, figured shamefully among the top eleven polluting rivers in India. The National Green Tribunal had in 2018 pulled up the State for inaction, listing the river in category-II amongst severely polluted rivers in India.

In a surprising twist of event on the climate front, too, Manipur suddenly finds itself in the hot seat, being listed as the top State in the country experiencing the largest change in net warming during winter of year 2023 and into year 2024 throughout India!

A recent assessment by Climate Central, a global independent group of scientists and communicators reporting facts about the changing world’s climate scenario and how it affects people’s lives, noted Manipur in India’s far east as experiencing the largest change in net warming at 2.3 degree Celsius during winter last year and early this year, while the national capital Delhi experienced the smallest change in net warming during winter with a margin of 0.2 degree Celsius. This reading was charted on a baseline studied since the year 1970.

The Climate Central report stated that the global mean temperatures have risen by more than 1.3 degree Celsius since the year 1850, and have set a new record in year 2023, while attributing the primary cause of this warming to the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from factors like excessive burning of coal, oil, and natural gas by industries and other agencies across the globe.

Dr. Andrew Pershing, vice-president for Science at Climate Central, observed that, “The cooling in the central and northern Indian states during January followed by very strong warming in February creates the potential for a quick jump from winter to spring-like conditions. By burning coal and oil, humans have warmed the planet leading to warmer conditions in all seasons across India”.

The Climate Central report, while observing that there are notable differences in the pattern of temperature changes during the winter season, stated that the southern parts of the country had strong warming during December 2023 and in January 2024.

The report noted that the northern parts of the country had weaker warming and even cooling during December and January. Delhi had the lowest rates during this period (at -0.2 degree Celsius in December 2023, and -0.8 degree Celsius in January 2024), and among the states Ladakh (at 0.1 degree Celsius in December 2023) and Uttar Pradesh (at -0.8 degree Celsius in January 2024) had the lowest warming rates.

On a similar footing, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) in its weather reading for January and February earlier this year had indicated warmer months in the northeast region where the minimum actual winter temperature in January 2024 was 10.25 degree Celsius against the normal 9.96 degree Celsius with an anomaly of 0.29 degree Celsius, while in February the minimum temperature shot up to 13.21 degree Celsius from the normal 12.66 degree Celsius with an anomaly of 0.54 degree Celsius.

The IMD attributed this factor to the increasing global warming which since has been altering the weather patterns, leading to anomalies in the temperatures and the rainfall patterns. It specifically referred to global warming continuously pushing the mercury to new levels, indicating that ‘initially it was the maximum temperatures that registered the rise, but now minimum temperatures are also following the same route’.

The diurnal temperature variation, which is the difference between the daily maximum and minimum temperatures, has decreased, the IMD’s recent report stated stressing that February month earlier this year witnessed the second highest minimum temperature in the month since the year 1901.

Climate models studying the weather anomalies had indicated several hotspots around the world that are going to experience record breaking heat this summer. The forecast is there that year 2024 could be amongst the hottest years ever in a century’s time. Parts of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, the Far East, and South America are going to bend under a blistering heat due to the El Nino influence. The only glimmering hope is that El Nino will weaken gradually and La Nina would hopefully edge in to ensure normal monsoons.

However, for the humans and other life forms on this planet, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 2023 assessment that, ‘Climate change is altering the frequency, duration, and intensity of many types of extreme weather events, including heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall, and fire weather conditions’ does not brood happy tidings, while the organization had in 2021 warned that, ‘Extreme weather events would increase in South Asia, including India, and heat waves would become more intense and frequent in the 21st century’.

Manipur during the past decades had steadily felt the heat of this assessment with observed increasing temperatures with each passing year, and some pockets of the State in Chandel, Churachandpur and Tengnoupal districts bordering Myanmar experienced blistering heat at plus 40 degree Celsius during the past three years where half a century back the maximum summer temperature would fluctuate around 32 degree Celsius.


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