India needs micro-level data for climate action

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Courtesy of SciDev.Net

India needs micro-level scientific assessment at the state, district and village levels for effective planning and implementation of measures to combat climate change, a national workshop has highlighted.

The workshop on climate-resilient development, organised last month (13 February), discussed integrating climate change into development programmes in semi-arid regions like Bundelkhand in centralIndia.

Participants pointed to how lack of micro-level climate change information at the state and district level was affecting planning and implementation of climate resilient development in Bundelkhand.

'We need scientific assessment of the vulnerabilities of each state that can predict weather and climate impacts, and also greenhouse gas inventories,' said Lokendra Thakkar, general manager and coordinator at the climate change division of the Madhya Pradesh state government.

Indialaunched a National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in 2008, but translating the policy into ground-level action depends to a large extent on states that are developing individual climate action plans.

NAPCC comprises eight national missions covering solar energy, enhanced energy efficiency, sustainable habitat, water, the Himalayan eco-system, sustainable agriculture and strategic knowledge which are at various stages of implementation in the different states.

Indianeeds models that can predict, with reasonable certainty, long-term climatic conditions that will prevail over a state over a specific time period, said Ashwani Kulkarni, scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.

'We have not been able to scale down the climate prediction models to predict long-term climatic conditions in a state,' Kulkarni told SciDev.Net, adding that the IITM is developing a model to predict long- term climatic conditions over individual Indian states.

Some efforts are underway. The India Meteorological Department has started issuing sub-district level forecasts for 41 villages inMaharashtra. A Pune-based non-profit, Watershed Development Trust, gleans data from automated weather stations installed in these villages that goes into making three-day predictions 24 hours in advance.

Jayanthi Natarajan,India's environment minister reported to parliament this month (7 March), that several provincial governments have taken steps to prepare individual state action plans, in line with the objectives of the NAPCC.

An executive committee consisting of representatives from various ministries and agencies monitors initiatives on climate change and evolve a coordinated response at the national level, Natarajan informed parliament.

And the value of state-level assessments was borne out by a study conducted by scientists in northern Jammu and Kashmir state, which predicted that increase in temperatures and reduction in precipitation could result in a sharp decrease in yields of the state’s main paddy crop.

The study, presented by Shakil A. Romshoo and M. Muslim at the annual Indian Science Congress in January, said rice production inKashmircould decrease by 6.6 percent by 2040 and 29.1 percent by 2090.

'The study was carried out to assess the impacts of climate change on crop productivity in Kashmir,' Romshoo, who is professor of geology at the Universityof Kashmir, told SciDev.Net.

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