Climate Change

On World Environment Day, CSE releases analysis of how India has warmed from 1901 till 2017

Annual mean temperature in India has increased by about 1.2°C since the beginning of the 20th century

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Monday 05 June 2017
13 out of the 15 warmest years were during the past 15 years (2002-2016). Credit: Vikas Choudhary / CSE
13 out of the 15 warmest years were during the past 15 years (2002-2016). Credit: Vikas Choudhary / CSE 13 out of the 15 warmest years were during the past 15 years (2002-2016). Credit: Vikas Choudhary / CSE

  • First animated climate spiral showing the warming of India
  • Annual mean temperature in India has increased by 1.2 degrees C since the beginning of the 20th
  • 2016 was second warmest year on record with temperature of 1.26 degrees C higher than
  • Winter (Jan-Feb) of 2017 was hottest in recorded history with temperature of 2.95 degrees higher than the baseline.
  • India is witnessing higher frequency and intensity of extreme weather events – draughts, floods, heat waves etc.--- because of rapidly increasing temperature.
  • Along with this India Warming analysis from CSE, Down To Earth releases its State of India’s Environment in Figures – a unique collation of data on environment-development issues, in the form of an e-book
  • The e-book covers subjects ranging from environmental crime and climate change to air pollution and water contamination

To see the INDIA WARMING spiral and understand what it says and means, please join Down To Earth's Facebook page  our FACEBOOK LIVE session with Sunita Narain and Chandra Bhushan today at 3.30 PM IST.

Late last week, US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the Paris Agreement, driving the proverbial nail into the coffin of the already insipid accord (see our press release on this on As the world starts to grapple with the fact of one of the top emitters reneging on all its promises, the realisation is sinking in that we have lost ground and gone back in time in our fight against global warming.

Today, on World Environment Day, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is re-emphasising the crisis that we are faced with today – by releasing the results of a study it has done to find out how India has warmed over the years. The analysis looks at temperature trends in the country – both annual and seasonal – from 1901 till recent years. And it finds that the country has been getting warmer continuously, consistently and rapidly.

CSE researchers have plotted this rise in temperature on an animated spiral – the first such visual representation to come from India. A similar climate spiral graph depicting global rise in temperatures is already in existence.  

What the analysis says

  • 2016 was the second warmest year on record.
  • 13 out of the 15 warmest years were during the past 15 years (2002-2016). The last decade (2001-2010/ 2007-2016) was also the warmest on record.
  • Annual mean temperature in India has increased by about 1.2oC since the beginning of the 20th century.
  • Annual mean temperature in India has rapidly increased since 1995. At this rate of increase, it will breach the 1.5oC mark within the next two decades. 1.5oC is the aspirational target set under the Paris Agreement.
  • In three out of four seasons (or nine months in a year), temperature in India has already increased by more than 1.5oC since the beginning of the 20th
  • Winters and pre- monsoon (summers) and post-monsoon seasons have seen rapidly increasing warming.
  • Mean temperature during winter months is now over 2oC warmer than in the beginning of the 20th century.
  • In the winter of 2016-17, the mean temperature was 2.95oC higher than the 1901-1930 baseline – the warmest in recorded history.
  • It is only during the monsoon months that the temperature increase is about 1o

What are the implications of this temperature increase?

The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is increasing with rising temperature.  For example, in winters of 2017 when the average temperature was 2.95°C higher than the 1901-1930 baseline, the worst drought in a century happened in southern India: Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala were worst-hit, with 330 million people coming under the grip of drought.

Similarly, during summers of 2010, when the average temperature was 2.05°C higher than the baseline, again the highest in recorded history, severe heat wave conditions prevailed over large parts of India. These conditions claimed more than 300 lives. In addition, four cyclonic storms hit India that year.

Says Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE: “India is warming and warming rapidly. The implications of this fundamental fact are serious for economic, social and ecological well-being of the country. We are experiencing frequent extreme weather events, and our weather is becoming unpredictable. Losses due to extreme weather events are mounting and it is our poor who are suffering the pains of climate change.

Adds Sunita Narain, director general, CSE: “With the US exiting the Paris Agreement, controlling emissions and temperature is now a tougher task for the world. We appeal to the global community to come together and take strong actions.” 

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  • Temperature follows the rainfall, particularly during drought and flood years. In 2002 and 2009 the deficit in rainfall was 0.81 and 0.79 and corresponding raise in temperature, respectively were 0.7 and 0.9 oC.

    Rainfall presents a cyclic variation: All-India Southwest Monsoon Rainfall presents a 60-year cycle. There is no need to go in to complicated analysis, by simply plotting ten year averages of data published by IITM [1871 to 1994] -- this I published in my book "Andhra Pradesh Agriculture: Scenario of the last four decades" in 2000. Two full cycles completed. The river floods also follow this. However, at regional level they follow differently depending upon the rainfall causing mechanisms like in undivided AP, annual rainfall present 132 year cycle and southwest and northeast monsoons presenting 56 year cycle but follow opposite pattern with cyclonic activity in Bay of Bengal follows northeast monsoon pattern.

    IMD 1931-60 normal book [Red Book] present monthly average, extreme monthly average and extreme in one day for maximum and minimum temperatures. So far in AP or Telangana has not crossed these limits. IMD [local] reported in long term temperature, noted 0.01 oC raise only. However, urban heat island related raises within the city are recorded.

    The average temperature at all India level is biased by urban data as rural India present sparse met network though changed a lot in terms of greenery.

    Temperature extremes are associated with Western Disturbances -- I published a paper in 1978 in IMD Journal.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy | 3 years ago | Reply
  • Continued

    The normal date of onset of the monsoon over Delhi is 19th June. Parliament raised a question on this. We analysed the data and found 2nd July was the normal date of onset of monsoon over Delhi. This was informed to government.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy | 3 years ago | Reply
  • Apart from Sun Stroke Deaths, Rise in temperatures lead to drought and other calamities.
    Here is the list of Top 10 Deadliest Heat Waves
    Country/Region Year Deaths
    Europe 2003 71,310
    Russia 2010 55,736
    Europe 2006 3,418
    India 1998 2,541
    India 2015 2,249
    US,Canada 1936 1,693
    US 1980 1,260
    India 2003 1,210
    India 2002 1,030
    Greece,Turkey 1987 1,030
    Why in India Heat Wave played havoc between 1998 and 2015 Four Times? Is it due to Climate Change?
    Temperature Rise in AP in 2015 and 2017
    “There was a 61% increase in the number of deaths due to heat stoke across India between 2004 to 2013, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, with indications that these numbers represent a vast under-reporting.
    More than 1,100 people have died this month in a wave of heat rippling across India, 852 in Andhra Pradesh and over 266 in Telangana.
    Heat stroke is caused when the body’s temperature rises to 40°C (104°F) or more, accompanied by delirium, seizures or coma. Heat stroke can be a fatal condition.
    Andhra-Telangana: Ground zero for heat, death
    On Saturday, a temperature of 48°C was recorded in Telangana’s Khammam district, breaking the all-time high of 47.2°C recorded in 1947.
    Over the last 10 years, 9,734 people have died across the country from heat stroke. Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana) has seen 1,723 deaths between 2004 and 2013.(The Hindustan Times, May 28, 2015).”
    This year in May itself the temperatures in AP are causing anxiety.
    Temperatures recorded on May 19 ,2017
    Place Temp. Degrees Celsius
    Machilipatnam 47.3
    Bapatla 46.8
    Vijayawada 46.6
    Jangamaheswarapuram 45.6
    Kavali 45.3
    Nellore 45.0
    Deviation from Normal Temperatures :
    Machilipatnam 9.5 Degrees Celsius
    Others 8.0
    I had been advocating Biofuel from Agave and Opuntia besides Biogas for power production. Unfortunately in India, we are in most cases imitators but not innovators. First Box Type solar cooker was from India. But often we adopt western designs. Unless west recognizes, we don’t recognize.
    Agave’s lower lignin content (down to 2.4%) and higher cellulose content (62%) makes it ideal for production of Biofuel. Agave can be inter cropped with Opuntia(Prickly Pear) which will be used to generate biogas for renewable electricity generation. Biogas power generators from KW size upto MW size are commercially available from India, Germany, China, Vietnam etc. The cost of production per Kwh with Opuntia can be as low as US$ 3.00 per million BTU. On an annual basis, one hectare of agave can yield up to ten times the ethanol one hectare of sugarcane in Brazil. Agave to Ethanol\’s CO2 e emissions are lower than sugarcane and corn. Water – footprint — agave does not have any. Agave uses water, light and soil most efficiently amongst plants/trees on earth. Agave is packed with sugars, on an annual basis one hectare of agave yields up to 10 thousand gallons of ethanol(from its sap/juice) and 6500 gallons of cellulosic ethanol. No other plant in the World has such potential. CAM Plants like Agave and Opuntia act as Carbon Sink.
    Here is a Plan:
    We have SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES (SEZ). Just like that we can start YOUTH ECONOMIC ZONES (YEZ). Wastelands can be given to youth on a lease basis(about 10 acres per youth) and 1o such youth can form a co-operative. They can cultivate fast growing multiple use plants like Agave and Opuntia. Power generation plants can be set up at local level. This way there will be decentralised power. This fits in Mahatma Gandhiji’s Concept of AGRO INDUSTRIES utilising local resources and resourcefulness. Youth can be given short term training in Agricultural operations. This way we can provide employment to Youth besides bringing waste and vacant land under cultivation. What is more, large plantations of Agave and Opuntia lead to climate Stability as both are CAM plants. Crassulacean acid metabolism, also known as CAM photosynthesis, is a carbon fixation pathway that evolved in some plants as an adaptation to arid conditions. In a plant using full CAM, the stomata in the leaves remain shut during the day to reduce evapotranspiration, but open at night to collect carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is stored as the four-carbon acid malate, and then used during photosynthesis during the day. The pre-collected CO2 is concentrated around the enzyme RuBisCO, increasing photosynthetic efficiency. Developing countries like ours which have millions of hectares of waste lands can transform rural economy by going in for Agave and Opuntia plantations on a massive scale.
    Also on the Highway Dividers Sisal Agave can be planted which will reduce pollution from CO2 and SO2 besides of care-free growth.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP)
    Renewable Energy Expert
    Environment Specialist
    Margaret Nobel Foundation Seattle Award in Energy Technology.

    Posted by: Anumakonda Jagadeesh | 3 years ago | Reply