Climate change made 2011-2020 decade wetter and warmer for India: WMO

In June 2013, India's worst monsoon flooding caused 5,800+ casualties, triggered by heavy rains, mountain snowmelt, and glacial lake outbursts in Uttarakhand.

2023 is set to be the warmest year on record (Photo: National Herald archives)
2023 is set to be the warmest year on record (Photo: National Herald archives)
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PTI

Worsening climate change made the 2011–2020-decade wetter and warmer for India, according to a new report released by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) at the UN climate conference on Tuesday.

The Decadal State of the Climate 2011-2020 said the rate of climate change surged alarmingly during the period, which was the warmest decade on record. The decadal report provides a longer-term perspective and compliments the WMO’s annual State of the Global Climate reports.

The provisional annual report for 2023, released at COP28 last week, said 2023 is set to be the warmest year on record.

The WMO, a specialised agency of the United Nations that covers weather, climate and water resources, said it was a "wet decade" over northwest India, Pakistan, China and the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.

The occurrence of extreme warm days in the 2011-2020 period was approximately twice the 1961-1990 average in parts of southeast Asia, most of Europe, southern Africa, Mexico and parts of eastern Australia.

Extreme cold has become less frequent with warming global temperatures: extreme cold days and nights in the 2011-2020 period were about 40 per cent below the 1961-1990 average, it said.

India had the worst single flooding episode in a monsoon season in June 2013, when heavy rains, mountain snowmelt and glacial lake outbursts leading to extreme flooding and landslides in Uttarakhand, killing more than 5,800 people, the report said.

Kerala was badly affected by floods in 2018, and in 2019 and 2020, India’s two wettest monsoon seasons in the previous 25 years saw intense and widespread flooding. Over 2000 flood-related deaths were reported in India and neighbouring countries.

Droughts during the 2011-2020 decade had major socioeconomic and humanitarian impacts. In India itself, drought was declared in 11 of its 28 states, leading to severe food and water insecurity; the situation was exacerbated by inequalities in water availability and access to its supply.

Due to substantial crop failures (between 10 per cent and 100 per cent in the districts surveyed) the drought increased the reliance of households on India’s Public Distribution System (PDS) for access to staple food grains. During this drought event, 82 per cent of households in affected areas were at risk of food insecurity.

World over, glaciers thinned by around 1 meter per year with long-term repercussions for water supplies for many millions of people, the WMO report said The Antarctic continental ice sheet lost nearly 75 per cent more ice between 2011-2020 than it did in 2001-2010 and the resulting sea level rise will jeopardise the existence of low-lying coastal regions and states in the future, it said.

“Each decade since the 1990s has been warmer than the previous one and we see no immediate sign of this trend reversing. More countries reported record high temperatures than in any other decade,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

He said the world's oceans are warming faster and the rate of sea level rise has nearly doubled in less than a generation.


The world is losing the race to save the melting glaciers and ice sheets, which is unequivocally driven by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, he said.

Weather and climate-related events were responsible for nearly 94 per cent of all disaster displacement recorded over the last decade and had a major impact on the progress of global efforts to end hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.

The WMO said climate change is "greatly" affecting the likelihood of many extreme events. Virtually every attribution study found that the likelihood of an extreme heat event increased significantly.

Heatwaves were responsible for the highest number of casualties, while tropical cyclones caused the most economic damage.

It said though the number of casualties from extreme events has declined due to improved early warning systems, economic losses have increased.

The 2011-2020 decade was the first since 1950 when there was not a single short-term event with 10,000 deaths or more.

The report said public and private climate finance almost doubled between 2011 and 2020. However, it needs to increase at least seven times by the end of this decade to achieve climate objectives.

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