IPCC's grim projections for Indian monsoon, agriculture

Latest IPCC report predicts more monsoon break days, floods and reduced grain yields

Published: Tuesday 23 September 2014

Kolkata is among the world’s most flood-prone cities. Extreme events are expected to be more catastrophic in nature for the people living in India’s eastern coast (Photo by Surya Sen)

The Working Group II of the IPCC Assessment Report (AR5)  establishes the state of environment in India and South Asia as a whole. It also projects the impact of such events on agriculture, which is the mainstay of the Indian economy.

  • It is expected that there would be an increase in the number of monsoon break days and a decline in the number of monsoon depressions.
  • Floods and droughts are likely to increase in India since there will be a decline in seasonal rainfall, coupled with increase in extreme precipitation during monsoon.
  • It is likely that tropical cyclone-related rainfall rates will increase with greenhouse warming. An increase in mean tropical cyclone maximum wind speed is likely, although increases may not occur in all tropical regions.
  • On the east coast of India, clusters of districts with poor infrastructure and demographic development are also the regions of maximum vulnerability. Hence, extreme events are expected to be more catastrophic in nature for the people living in these districts.
  • A changing climate has been projected to reduce monsoon sorghum grain yield in India by 2-14 per cent by 2020, with worsening yields by 2050 and 2080. There shall also be alterations in rice yields as with rising temperatures, the process of rice development accelerates and reduces the duration of growth. Large reductions in wheat production in the Indo-Gangetic plains are also projected.

Extreme weather event projections for India for 2030s, by Government of India

The 4X4 Assessment 2010 Report, brought out by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, in November 2010, makes the following projections about extreme weather events in India.

  • Climate change scenarios for 2030s indicate an overall warming for all the regions. The net increase in annual temperatures in 2030s, with respect to 1970s, ranges between 1.7-2.2oC. Extreme temperatures are expected to increase by 1-4oC, with maximum increase in coastal regions. The extreme maximum and minimum temperatures are also projected to increase.
  • All the regions are projected to experience an increase in precipitation in the 2030s, with respect to 1970s. The Himalayan region will see maximum increase in precipitation, while the North Eastern region will experience the minimum increase. Extreme precipitation events are likely to increase by 5-10 days in all the regions.
  • Sea level along the Indian coast has been rising at the rate of 1.3mm/year and is likely to rise in consonance with the global sea level rise in the future.
  • Further projections indicate that the frequency of cyclones is likely to decrease in 2030s, with increase in cyclonic intensity.

Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability - summary for policymakers (IPCC Climate Report, Fifth Assessment, WGII AR5)

Adapting climate impacted agriculture in South Asia

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