Cyclone 'Michuang', which has drowned Chennai, is a stark warning of climate change. With rising CO2 emissions, urgent cuts are needed to tackle the escalating climate crisis. The severe cyclonic storm 'Michuang', which caused devastation in India's metropolitan city of Chennai and the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh, where it made landfall on Tuesday, is a grim reminder for the world to limit global warming and cut emissions rapidly.
The volume of rain the storm dumped over Chennai is unprecedented. The city received close to 45 cm in two days, overpowering the flood mitigation system put in place by the state authorities. Michuang is the sixth storm of the year in the Indian seas. While the formation of a tropical storm in the Bay of Bengal during December is very typical, the intensity of rains associated with the cyclone Micchuang is not normal. Climate experts say the frequency and intensity of cyclones have increased manifolds, courtesy of global warming. 93% of the heat is being observed by the oceans, and warm waters act as an energy source for cyclones. Scientists note that the intensity of the cyclone depends not only on sea surface temperature (SST) but, more importantly, on the volume of warm water in the ocean.
As the COP28 in Dubai is battling hard to reach some consensus on an emission cut to limit global warming to 1.5°C, a slew of reports were released on Tuesday by various organisations that suggest global carbon emissions from fossil fuels have risen this year and are reaching record levels, according to new research from the Global Carbon Project science team. NDRF team rescues the residents of flooded MMDA, Mathur, on the rescue boats on Tuesday in Chennai - Express / P Jawahar Surging emissions in India and China The annual Global Carbon Budget projects fossil carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of 36.8 billion metric tonnes in 2023, up 1.1% from 2022. The report projects that total global CO2 emissions will be 40.9 billion metric tonnes in 2023. India tops the countries where emissions are on the rise by 8.2% and China by 4%; however, their historic emissions would still be far less than those of the US or Europe. Scientists say if countries don't take efforts to make course corrections now, climate extremes like Michuang will be on the rise. "The impacts of climate change are evident all around us, but action to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels remains painfully slow," said Prof. Pierre Friedlingstein of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, who led the study. "It now looks inevitable that we will overshoot the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement, and leaders meeting at COP28 will have to agree to rapid cuts in fossil fuel emissions even to keep the 2°C target alive," Friedlingstein added. Another report from Climate Action Tracker said that despite government promises, warming projections have not improved since Glasgow two years ago, amid worsening climate impacts. The government's 2030 targets will lead to 2.5 °C of warming by the end of the century. Loss and damages The climate and weather extremes have inflicted heavy losses and damages in India, especially on the East Coast. The Bay of Bengal hosts more cyclones than the Arabian Sea on account of favourable geographical and atmospheric conditions. Cyclone Fani in 2019 caused an estimated economic loss amounting to Rs 12,000 crores ($1.6 billion) and damaged more than five hundred thousand houses within the coastal districts of Orissa. Cyclone Phailin in 2013 caused an approximate economic loss of Rs 89,020 million ($1.16 billion). It has been estimated that financial loss was nearly Rs 8000 crores ($1.1 billion) during the Odisha cyclone in 1999. Cyclone Amphan was yet another powerful cyclone that tore through West Bengal, causing damage worth Rs 1 trillion ($13 billion) to infrastructure and crops. Trio of El Nino, IOD, and MJO El Nino, an oceanic condition that is usually associated with surplus north-east monsoons, was blamed for the extreme weather event. The El Nino indices crossed 2°C for the first time since 2016, after the super El Nino of 2015. Chennai recorded close to 30 cm of rain on December 2, 2015. Roxy Mathew Koll, climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology said: "El Niños usually peak around Christmas in December, which is why they derive their name from the Spanish term for ‘little boy’. As oceans absorb more than 93% of the additional heat from global warming, El Niños are also getting stronger. They are not little boys anymore, but monsters of the sea." "Changes in ocean-cyclone interactions have emerged in recent decades in response to Indian Ocean warming and are to be closely monitored with improved observations since future climate projections demonstrate continued warming of the Indian Ocean at a rapid pace along with an increase in the intensity of cyclones in this basin," Koll added. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)