Assessing the impact of climate change on cities, states and nations has always been a challenge. To measure the impacts and forecast its impending results is but a stepping stone in the fight against climate change, to work out sustainable solutions. India has proudly moved forward in the right direction by releasing a major report titled “Climate Change and India: A 4X4 Assessment”.
The report provides an assessment of impact of climate change in 2030s on four key sectors of the Indian economy viz, Agriculture, Water, Natural Ecosystems & Biodiversity and Health in four climate sensitive regions of India viz., the Himalayan region, the Western Ghats, the Coastal Area and the Northeast region. More about the report release and its salient feature can be read on our partner blog by clicking here.
The Northeast of India is a region with much diversity and has largely been not so high on the nation’s development agenda. The region is also very vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate and has faced wrath of freak weather events in the recent past. Northeast India has very low adaptability owing to the overlooked development and therefore much needs to be done here.
According to the report, an increase in precipitation is modeled in 2030s with respect to 1970s and the increase is said to be maximum in the Himalayan region and minimum in the Northeast region. Also, the report mentions extreme precipitation events may to increase by 5-10 days in all the regions.
In the Northeastern region, the rise in temperature with respect to the 1970s ranges from 1.8°C to 2.1°C. Also, the number of rainy days is likely to increase by 1-10 days with intensity of rainfall in the region to increase by 1-6 mm/day. This may cause wide alarm in the region as many parts of the region are prone to landslides and floods which are only aggravated by heavy rainfall.
The impact on productivity of four cereals (wheat, maize, rice and sorghum) and coconut plantations have been assessed through a simulation model called IndoCrop. Irrigated rice in the Northeastern region is predicted to gain yields marginally due to warming as compared to rainfed crop. This is because irrigated rice tends to benefit from the CO2 fertilization effect. Irrigated rice yields may range between 10% and 5%, with respect to the 1970s while the rainfed rice yield may vary between 35% to 5% with respect to 1970s. Maize and sorghum are projected to have reduced yields in all the regions.
A great concern for the Northeast is the projected threat of malaria in the region. With climate change leading to more wetter and warmer periods, opportunities for transmission are likely to increase for a longer period in the region. However, impact assessment research is a complex challenge because it includes physical, biological and socio-economic aspects, and the tools used need to continuously evolve so as to upgrade the scientific rigour of the findings.
It cannot be really said with much accuracy, however the health situation in the region is something that needs rigorous monitoring for early reporting of any abnormalities. People should be pro-active and need to be sensitized in this regard.
Also, the InfoCrop model does not take into account socio-economic trends. Hence, improvement in farmers’ economic status, market demand, and so on, which drive the changes in yields and production to a large extent, have not been considered. Further, even though the model has provisions, the pests and diseases scenarios are not integrated in this assessment due to lack of proper scientific data.
As is the case of scientific investigations across the country, the lack of suitable and adequately documented data is something that makes predictions like these difficult. What seems to be clear is the fact that the region needs is definitely going to be impacted and should begin to gear up for preparing itself. And each one of us will need to come forward to do our bit, for it is our future which is at stake now.