Menopausal Mother Nature

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Global warming brewing trouble in the Oceans – Times Now

Global warming brewing trouble in the Oceans

Cyclone Tauktae in Mumbai | Pic Credit: Twitter/@kvsrajmankapur& 

It is an interesting coincidence that musician Gary Numan has released his album ‘Intruder’ this month, as Cyclone Tauktae hit the shores of India. The central theme of the album is climate change from the planet’s perspective through which Numan explores a world where “there is no technology left and most of the planet has turned into a desolate desert wasteland”.

Why the coincidence is important is that Cyclone Tauktae is not a regular storm but a ‘storm in the sea cup’. It is indicative of the mayhem that global warming is causing in the oceans, changing weather patterns and risks for cities settled in coastal areas. For more than a century, most cyclones occurred over the Bay of Bengal as compared to the Arabian Sea. As per data, each year, of the five cyclones that affected India, four emerged from the Bay of Bengal and one over the Arabian Sea and mostly never in the pre-Monsoon season (April to June).

However, for the last four years now the numeric has changed dramatically and slowly the Arabian Sea has sped ahead of the Bay of Bengal in terms of cyclonic activity with five cyclones emerging from the western side compared to three from the eastern rim. What is worse is that all these typhoons have been categorized as ‘Severe Cyclones’ or more. Before Tauktae there was Cyclone Mekanu in 2018, Cyclone Vayu in 2019 and Cyclone Nisarga in 2020.

cyclone nisarga
Aftermath of Cyclone Nisarga

The reason for the frequent occurrence of these twisters is the depression that is formed in the Arabian Sea, but Tauktae seems to have strengthened in intensity in lesser time than the previous three Cyclones. This indicates a rise in sea surface temperatures (SST) over the last four decades. Cyclones gain energy from warmed waters that turn into vapour. With SST rising by 1-2 degrees Celsius over the Arabian Sea, more vapour and humid air are lending power to the cyclonic engine.

And with more heat released through condensation, the steeper is the drop in pressure, completing an entire cycle. The root cause therefore in global warming and climatic changes worldwide.

Warming is caused by global emissions and greenhouses gases which are mostly absorbed by oceans. All recent storms like Nisarga, Ampha and Ockhi rapidly intensified from a weak cyclone to an extremely severe one in less than day.

cyclone amphan
Aftermath of Cyclone Amphan

Temperatures first began to rise after the Industrial Revolution. However, the pace of increase was much lower compared to now. From 1880 for about a hundred years till 1980, temperatures rose by about 0.07 degrees Celsius every decade. But since 1981, the rate of increase became rapid and now is rising by 0.18 degrees Celsius every 10 years.

It is no surprise then that nine of the ten hottest years since 1880 have been recorded post 2005 and more so since 2015. Global warming occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants that are emitted absorb sun rays and remain trapped in the atmosphere causing the greenhouse effect. For many years now glaciers have been melting rapidly and we have seen glacial bursts like the recent one in the Rishiganga Valley; sea levels have risen and there are blistering heatwaves. Cyclones are a part of the same planetary disruptions.

Cyclone Tauktae in Panjim
Aftermath of Cyclone Tauktae in Panjim | Pic Credit: PTI

Cyclone Tauktae has been wreaking havoc, all along the western coast starting from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, along Mumbai to Gujarat. It is symptomatic of what Mother Nature has endured for years and is now expressing.

As English musician Gary Numan says, “The songs (of Intruder), for the most part, attempt to be that voice, or at least try to express what I believe the earth must feel at the moment. The planet sees us as its children now grown into callous selfishness, with total disregard for its well-being. It feels betrayed, hurt and ravaged. Disillusioned, it’s fighting back now.”

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