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Climate change fallout: J&K to witness more cloudbursts, flash floods

WhatsApp Image 2021 07 28 at 11.15.02 AM 1

Srinagar:  Experts have warned of more cloudbursts and flash floods in Jammu and Kashmir.

On July 28, at least seven people were killed and 19 went missing when a flash flood hit Honzar village of the Kishtwar district.


Official data assessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveals that six adverse weather events including cloudbursts and flash floods have taken place in various districts of Jammu and Kashmir from January to July 5, 2021.

“Undoubtedly, the frequency of the adverse climate events like cloudbursts and flash floods has increased in J&K albeit there is no research done on it yet. This is a loud indicator of the change in climate,” Senior Assistant Professor Irfan Rashid Department of Geo-Informatics, Kashmir University said.

Cloudbursts are short-duration intense rainfall events over a small area. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), it is a weather phenomenon with unexpected precipitation exceeding 100mm/h over a geographical region of approximately 20-30 square km.

Rashid pointed out that Jammu and Kashmir is more prone to extreme weather events.

“Although there is no research backing, the union territory, which occurs in the Himalayan arc, is governed by two metrological atmospheric circulation patterns—western disturbances and Indian summer monsoons. A change in any of these two patterns will definitely affect the incidence of these adverse weather events,” Rashid said.

Farooq Ahmad Bhat, Meteorologist at MET Department, Srinagar, said cloudburst takes place when there is more than 100 mm rainfall in just one hour at a given location. There is also a new definition of mini cloudburst, which is more than 50 mm rainfall in two consecutive hours.

“Unlike cyclones, forecasting a cloudburst is very difficult due to the dynamics of the rapidly developing clouds over a very small area,” Bhat said.

He noted that the intensity of cloudbursts and flash floods have increased over the last one decade.

“The rate of  increasing deforestation, population growth, and global warming together contribute to the rise in such weather occurrences,” Bhat said.

Several studies have shown that climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of cloudbursts in many cities across the globe.

 In May, the World Meteorological Organization noted that there is about a 40% chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level in at least one of the next five years. It added that there is a 90% likelihood of at least one year between 2021 and 2025 becoming the warmest on record and dislodge 2016 from the top rank.

A 2017 study of cloudbursts in the Indian Himalayas noted that most of the events occurred in the months of July and August