Climate Change

June-August dry spell, heavy September rain signs of climate change: Odisha experts

Erratic rainfall, floods, water-logging, cyclones and sea erosion are factors that make Odisha a state highly exposed to climate change, say experts

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Thursday 23 September 2021
A flooded village in Odisha's Kendrapara district. Photo: Ashis Senapati
A flooded village in Odisha's Kendrapara district. Photo: Ashis Senapati A flooded village in Odisha's Kendrapara district. Photo: Ashis Senapati

Less rainfall during June, July and August as well as excess rain September were sure shot signs that Odisha had been struck by climate change this year, experts said September 23, 2021.

The southwest monsoon was rather weak during the peak cultivation season from June to August this year in the state. But it had rained incessantly, without a break for a week in September due to the formation of low pressures in the Bay of Bengal.

Umashankar Das, senior scientist at the Regional Meteorological Centre in Bhubaneswar, cited latest data to show how this had come about.

“The state needs 217.7 millimeters of normal rain in June but received 181.3 mm of rain in June 2021, ie 17 per cent less rainfall than normal,” he said.

In July, the state received 275 mm rain, instead of the 344.4 mm rain it normally gets, a 20 per cent deficit. Similarly, in August, the state received 204.9 mm instead of 366.4 mm rainfall, a 44 per cent deficit.

“On the other hand, in September, the state needs 226.6 mm rainfall. But till September 23, Odisha received 334.6 mm rain ie 76 per cent excess rainfall due to three low pressures in the Bay of Bengal,” Das noted.

Longer monsoon pauses and heavy rainfall for a few days were signs of climate change, he said.

On September 12 and 13, Odisha received 661 per cent more rain than normal for this time. It received 75 mm ie 869 per cent more rainfall than normal September 12.

On September 13, the state received 59 mm ie 535 per cent more rainfall due to the formation of low pressure in the sea.  

“Heavy rainfall in September caused excessive crop damage in many areas of the state. The dry spell in June-August, followed by excess rain in September, greatly affected the kharif crop,” Das added.  

 “Excess rain in September damaged paddy crops and vegetables and less rain in June- August was a blow to the farmers who depend on monsoonal rain for the purpose of cultivation,” Umesh Chandra Singh, a farmer leader and vice-president of the Krusaka Sabha, told this reporter.

Odisha has a cultivated area of 6.18 million hectares (mha). The coverage under paddy during kharif is about 4.12 mha and during rabi is 0.33 mha, according to data from the department of agriculture, Government of Odisha.

The total irrigation potential created so far from all sources is about 4.27 mha. (kharif 2.86 mha and rabi 1.4 mha). The gross irrigated cropped area is 3.17 mha, which is about 74 per cent of the potential created, according to the data.

“The number of rainy days are also decreasing because of climate change,” Sarat Chandra Sahoo, the director of Centre for Environment and Climate in Siksha O Anusandhan (SOA) University, Bhubaneshwar, said.

Erratic rainfall, floods, water logging, cyclones and sea erosion were factors that made Odisha a state highly exposed to climate change, added Sahoo.

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