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Did climate change cause Cyclone Nisarga? Here is what experts say

Some climate experts suggest that the Arabian Sea may become the new cradle for cyclone formations as the sea surface temperature is gradually rising.

June 03, 2020 / 02:56 PM IST

Mumbai will be impacted by a tropical cyclone for the first time in over a century and this is not the only thing that makes Cyclone Nisarga peculiar.

Scientists are of the opinion that the cyclone itself comes as a fresh reminder of the threats that climate change pose and what the future may look like if quick and effective measures are not taken to avert years of damage made to the environment.

They suggest that the frequency of tropical cyclone formations over the Arabian Sea has increased because of this. This was the second cyclone to develop over the sea located to the west of India within the past week. The previous one hit Oman on May 29.

Until mid-May, the Indian Meteorological Department had not predicted any cyclone formation; they started talking about the formation of depression only from May 28. However, even at that time, it was expected to advance the onset of monsoon and not develop into a severe cyclonic storm.

This is because the whole development comes as a bit of a surprise for weather experts. The Arabian Sea is known to be pacific in nature, as compared to the Bay of Bengal located along the east coast of India. The latter is more turbulent and sees at least three times more cyclones than the Arabian Sea.


In the Arabian waters, cyclones form only once a year, but it seems that the centuries-long trend is set to change now, bringing with it frequent rains, floods, and much more. Some climate experts have also suggested that the Arabian may become the new cradle for cyclone formations as the sea surface temperature is gradually rising.

Moist air that is warmer than 27 degrees Celsius is conducive for cyclone genesis. As we all know, warm air moves upwards from the ocean’s surface, which creates a patch of low air pressure on the sea and cloud formation in the sky. The intensity of the wind movement continues to grow over days and turns into a cyclone. This means that increase in temperature due to global warming is one of the primary reasons behind off-season cyclone formations.

To track Cyclone Nisarga, you can check the official website of the IMD for the live status.

> Look up the Our Services section on the IMD website
> Select Cyclone
> Track of cyclonic disturbance section

Other websites that are presently tracking the progress of Cyclone Nisarga are SkymetWeather and Windy. While Skymet is providing live updates on the cyclone, Windy has a map showing the real-time location of the storm. One can click on the 'play' button to see its trajectory.

Alternately, track Moneycontrol's Cyclone Nisarga live updates

As per a report by the New Indian Express, Roxy Mathew Koll, researcher, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, pointed out that surface temperatures over the Arabian Sea were recorded at 30-32 degrees before the depression had started forming, which proved favourable for cyclone genesis.

He added: “We already see a detectable increase in post-monsoon tropical cyclones over the Arabian Sea. Are we moving towards such a trend during the pre-monsoon also? During recent years, we have seen a surge in Arabian Sea cyclones occurring close to the monsoon onset, but we are yet to understand if there is a climate change element to it.”

A study conducted by atmospheric scientist Hiroyuki Murakami on cyclones originating in the Arabian Sea established that 64 percent of cyclonic storms were experienced in the region due to climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has also observed that the sea surface temperature of the Arabian Sea is on the rise.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jun 3, 2020 02:56 pm

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