Natural disasters in India

Natural disasters in India
Disaster-prone regions in India.
Map showing winds zones, shaded by distribution of average speeds of prevailing winds.

Natural disasters in India, many of them related to the climate of India, cause massive losses of Indian life and property. Droughts, flash floods, cyclones, avalanches, landslides brought on by torrential rains, and snowstorms pose the greatest threats. Other dangers include frequent summer dust storms, which usually track from north to south; they cause extensive property damage in North India[1] and deposit large amounts of dust from arid regions. Hail is also common in parts of India, causing severe damage to standing crops such as rice and wheat.

Landslides are common in the Lower Himalayas. The young age of the region's hills result in labile rock formations, which are susceptible to slippages. Rising population and development pressures, particularly from logging and tourism, cause deforestation. The result is denuded hillsides which exacerbate the severity of landslides; since tree cover impedes the downhill flow of water.[2] Parts of the Western Ghats also suffer from low-intensity landslides. Avalanches occurrences are common in Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Sikkim.

Floods are the most common natural disaster in India. The heavy southwest monsoon rains cause the Brahmaputra and other rivers to distend their banks, often flooding surrounding areas. Though they provide rice paddy farmers with a largely dependable source of natural irrigation and fertilisation, the floods can kill thousands and displace millions. Excess, erratic, or untimely monsoon rainfall may also wash away or otherwise ruin crops.[3][4] Almost all of India is flood-prone, and extreme precipitation events, such as flash floods and torrential rains, have become increasingly common in central India over the past several decades, coinciding with rising temperatures. Mean annual precipitation totals have remained steady due to the declining frequency of weather systems that generate moderate amounts of rain.[5]

Contents

Cyclones in India

Tropical cyclones, which are severe storms spun off from the Intertropical Convergence Zone, may affect thousands of Indians living in the coastal regions. Tropical cyclogenesis is particularly common in the northern reaches of the Indian Ocean in and around the Bay of Bengal. Cyclones bring with them heavy rains, storm surges, and winds that often cut affected areas off from relief and supplies. In the North Indian Ocean Basin, the cyclone season runs from April to December, with peak activity between May and November.[6] Each year, an average of eight storms with sustained wind speeds greater than 63 kilometres per hour (39 mph) form; of these, two strengthen into true tropical cyclones, which have sustained gusts greater than 117 kilometres per hour (73 mph). On average, a major (Category 3 or higher) cyclone develops every other year.[6][7]

During summer, the Bay of Bengal is subject to intense heating, giving rise to humid and unstable air masses that produce cyclones. Many powerful cyclones, including the 1737 Calcutta cyclone, the 1970 Bhola cyclone, and the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone, have led to widespread devastation along parts of the eastern coast of India and neighboring Bangladesh. Widespread death and property destruction are reported every year in exposed coastal states such as Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal. India's western coast, bordering the more placid Arabian Sea, experiences cyclones only rarely; these mainly strike Gujarat and, less frequently, Kerala.

In terms of damage and loss of life, Cyclone 05B, a supercyclone that struck Orissa on 29 October 1999, was the worst in more than a quarter-century. With peak winds of 160 miles per hour (257 km/h), it was the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.[8] Almost two million people were left homeless;[9] another 20 million people lives were disrupted by the cyclone.[9] Officially, 9,803 people died from the storm;[8] unofficial estimates place the death toll at over 10,100.[9]

Droughts

Indian agriculture is heavily dependent on the monsoon as a source of water. In some parts of India, the failure of the monsoons result in water shortages, resulting in below-average crop yields. This is particularly true of major drought-prone regions such as southern and eastern Maharashtra, northern Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. In the past, droughts have periodically led to major Indian famines, including the Bengal famine of 1770, in which up to one third of the population in affected areas died; the 1876–1877 famine, in which over five million people died; the 1899 famine, in which over 4.5 million died; and the Bengal famine of 1943, in which over five million died from starvation and famine-related illnesses.[10][11]

All such episodes of severe drought correlate with El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events.[12][13] El Niño-related droughts have also been implicated in periodic declines in Indian agricultural output.[14] Nevertheless, ENSO events that have coincided with abnormally high sea surfaces temperatures in the Indian Ocean—in one instance during 1997 and 1998 by up to 3 °C (5 °F)—have resulted in increased oceanic evaporation, resulting in unusually wet weather across India. Such anomalies have occurred during a sustained warm spell that began in the 1990s.[15] A contrasting phenomenon is that, instead of the usual high pressure air mass over the southern Indian Ocean, an ENSO-related oceanic low pressure convergence center forms; it then continually pulls dry air from Central Asia, desiccating India during what should have been the humid summer monsoon season. This reversed air flow causes India's droughts.[16] The extent that an ENSO event raises sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean influences the degree of drought.[12]

Citations

  1. ^ Balfour 1976, p. 995.
  2. ^ Allaby 1998, p. 26.
  3. ^ Allaby 1998, p. 42.
  4. ^ Allaby 1998, p. 15.
  5. ^ Goswami BN, Venugopal V, Sengupta D, Madhusoodanan MS, Xavier PK (2006). "Increasing trend of extreme rain events over India in a warming environment". Science 314 (5804): 1442–1445. doi:10.1126/science.1132027. PMID 17138899. 
  6. ^ a b Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Hurricane Research Division. "Frequently Asked Questions: When is hurricane season?". NOAA. http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/G1.html. Retrieved 2006-07-25. 
  7. ^ Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Hurricane Research Division. "Frequently Asked Questions: What are the average, most, and least tropical cyclones occurring in each basin?". NOAA. http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/E10.html. Retrieved 2006-07-25. 
  8. ^ a b "Tropical Cyclone 05B". Naval Maritime Forecast Center (Joint Typhoon Warning Center). http://www.usno.navy.mil/NOOC/nmfc-ph/RSS/jtwc/atcr/1999atcr/pdf/05b.pdf. Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  9. ^ a b c "1999 Supercyclone of Orissa". BAPS Care International. 2005. http://baps-care.org/services/disaster/1990/1999supercyclone.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  10. ^ Nash 2002, pp. 22–23.
  11. ^ Collier & Webb 2002, p. 67.
  12. ^ a b Kumar KK, Rajagopatan B, Hoerling M, Bates G, Cane M (2006). "Unraveling the Mystery of Indian Monsoon Failure During El Niño". Science 314 (5796): 115–119. doi:10.1126/science.1131152. PMID 16959975. 
  13. ^ Caviedes 2001, p. 121
  14. ^ Caviedes 2001, p. 259.
  15. ^ Nash 2002, pp. 258–259.
  16. ^ Caviedes 2001, p. 117.

Further reading

  • Toman, MA; Chakravorty, U; Gupta, S (2003). India and Global Climate Change: Perspectives on Economics and Policy from a Developing Country. Resources for the Future Press. ISBN 1-8918-5361-9 

External links

General overview
Reports
Resources on Natural Disasters
Maps, imagery, and statistics
Forecasts

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.


Поделиться ссылкой на выделенное

Прямая ссылка:
Нажмите правой клавишей мыши и выберите «Копировать ссылку»