Home
Council on Energy, Environment and Water Integrated | International | Independent
Report

Preparing India for Extreme Climate EventsMapping Hotspots and Response Mechanisms

Abinash Mohanty
December 2020 | Risks & Adaptation

Suggested citation: Mohanty, Abinash. 2020. Preparing India for Extreme Climate Events: Mapping Hotspots and Response Mechanisms. New Delhi: Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

Overview

The study is the first-of-its-kind district-level profiling of India’s extreme climate events such as cyclones, floods, and drought. It uses spatial and temporal modelling to develop the district-level assessment discussing the complexities and non-linear trends and patterns. Besides the frequency of climate catastrophes, it examines the pattern of associated events and how the impacts have compounded. Further, it analyses the shift in trend in climate events across sub-regions within the country. The study uses a pentad decadal analysis to develop an extreme climate events catalogue for a historical time scale of 50 years (1970-2019).

Classification of extreme climate events considered in this study

Classification of extreme climate events considered in this study
 

Key Findings

  • More than 75 per cent of Indian districts, which are home to over 638 million people, are extreme climate event hotspots.
  • Between 1970 and 2005, there were 250 extreme events. The period after 2005 recorded 310 extreme events and associated events, including slow onset events like heat waves and cold waves.
  • Post-2005, at least 55 or more districts witnessed extreme flood events year-on-year, exposing 97.51 million people annually.
  • The year 2005 recorded the highest flood frequency, with 140 floods affecting 69 districts. The number of affected districts increased to 151 in 2019.
  • The frequency of associated flood events such as landslides, heavy rainfall, hailstorms, thunderstorms, and cloudbursts surged by over 20 times between 1970 and 2019.

More than 75 per cent of Indian districts are extreme climate events hotspots

More than 75 per cent of Indian districts are extreme climate events hotspots
Source: Author’s analysis
  • In the last 15 years, 79 districts recorded extreme drought events year-on-year, exposing 140.06 million people annually. The yearly average of drought-affected districts increased 13 times in this period.
  • After 2005, 24 districts witnessed extreme cyclone events yearly, exposing 42.50 million people to storm surges, intense cyclones, and associated events.
  • In the last decade alone, cyclones hit 258 districts.
  • The cyclone hotspot districts - Puri, Chennai, Nellore, North 24 Parganas, Ganjam, Cuttack, East Godavari, and Srikakulum – were concentrated along the eastern coastline. The east coast’s warming regional microclimate, land-use change, and degrading forest have triggered the region's cyclogenesis process.
  • The number of associated cyclonic events increased 12-fold between 1970 and 2019.
The changing pattern of extreme events are witnessed by more than 40 per cent of Indian districts
Source: Author’s analysis
  • The pattern of extreme events such as flood-prone areas becoming drought-prone and vice-versa has changed in over 40 per cent of Indian districts.
  • Districts that experienced a shifting trend from floods to droughts were higher than those of districts that have shifted from droughts to floods. It resulted from microclimatic changes across the Indian subcontinent triggered by local climate change drivers such as land-use-surface change, deforestation, encroachments upon mangroves, and wetlands.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop a Climate Risk Atlas to map critical vulnerabilities such as coasts, urban heat stress, water stress, and biodiversity collapse
  • Develop an Integrated Emergency Surveillance System to facilitate a systematic and sustained response to emergencies
  • Mainstream risk assessment at all levels, including localised, regional, sectoral, cross-sectoral, macro and micro-climatic level
  • Enhance adaptive and resilience capacity to climate-proof lives, livelihoods and investments
  • Increase the participatory engagement of all stakeholders in the risk assessment process
  • Integrate risk assessment into local, sub-national, and national level plans
The pattern of extreme events such as flood-prone areas becoming drought-prone and vice-versa has changed in over 40 per cent of Indian districts.

Sign up for the latest on our pioneering research

Explore Related Publications