Cold spell not due to climate change, says expert

February 16th, 2008 - 1:59 pm ICT by admin  

By K. Jayaraman
Bangalore, Feb 16 (IANS) Freezing temperatures in Delhi, record snowfall in Kashmir and the biting cold in Mumbai over the last few days is not a result of climate change but “part of the year to year variation” in weather, a leading meteorologist has said. “We have some understanding of what this bitter cold weather is due to, but this has noting to do with global warming or climate change,” Madhavan Nair Rajeevan, director of the National Climate Centre (NCC) in Pune, told IANS over the phone.

The NCC, under the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), uses a global climate model to make predictions. He said his centre had already predicted the extreme weather this year on the basis of its climate model and the forecast was communicated to government officials

He said the brutal winter this year was due to some “anomaly” in the Indian Ocean and not climate change.

The 8.4 degree Celsius recorded in Mumbai this season was the lowest in the past 58 years and the minimum of 2.3 degrees Celsius recorded in Delhi was the coldest Jan 28 in five years, according to IMD.

The cold spell was not confined to India.

China is still struggling with its worst snowfall in decades, a rare snowstorm hit the Middle East early January, heavy snowfall blanketed Jerusalem and surrounding areas and it snowed in Baghdad in January for the first time in memory.

Bitter cold weather enveloped Central Asia, northern Arabia, Iran and eastern Turkey and northeast Kazakhstan. Hundreds died in Afghanistan of the cold weather.

According to Rajeevan, no connection can be made between these extremes and climate change, which is blamed mainly on emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

“Climate change would bring bigger swings in the weather alongside a warming trend that will mean more heat waves, droughts, floods and rising sea,” Amir Delju, senior scientific coordinator of the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) climate programme in Geneva, has been quoted as saying.

According to Delju, “We are in a minor La Nina period which shows a little cooling in the Pacific Ocean.” La Nina is an ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that typically causes a wet period in mid western United States.

The unusually heavy snowfall and cold wave in China this month was prominently covered by the media because it marred the Chinese new year celebrations, according to Jayaraman Srinivasan, atmospheric scientist at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. “India got some protection from the Himalayas,” Srinivasan told IANS.

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