The UK and India team up to study climate change

A research programme examining the impacts of climate change in India has been launched by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) and the Indian Ministry of the Environment and Forests (MoEF).

The three year study by Indian scientists and initially funded by the DETR is intended to build up a comprehensive picture of the possible future impacts of global warming over the next 80 years. The project will build on India’s existing expertise in assessing the impacts of climate change, concentrating on factors such as temperature increase, sea-level rise, rainfall, population and economic growth. The research is also designed to reduce the uncertainties in current climate change prediction models, and is intended to make a valuable contribution to international climate science.

“A relationship has developed [between DETR and MoEF] over a period of time,” a DETR spokesperson explained to edie. “We’re also doing similar work in China as well.”

The results from the project will be drawn on by six further studies examining the impacts of climate change sea level variability, water availability and quality, forests, agriculture, health, and energy, as well as effects on industry and transport infrastructure.

According to Environmental Resources Management (ERM), an international firm of consultants involved in the project, extreme changes in sea level that are brought about by climate change, such as storm surges, may cause significant problems in coastal areas, some of which are among the most economically and ecologically important zones in India. A sea level rise of one metre could displace seven million people in India, says ERM.

Climate change may also add to existing stresses on scarce water resources. The Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in the UK is predicting that annual river runoff may decline up to 70% in some areas.

The Hadley Centre also predicts that biomass production by vegetation in India may decline drastically in some areas, with cereal yields possibly declining by up to 20% by 2080.

Collaboration between Indian and UK researchers is being encouraged under the programme. A climate model constructed by the Hadley Centre will provide a basis for the initial climate change scenarios in the programme.

A booklet explaining the project is available on ERM’s website, by clicking on ‘Office Locations’, then ‘Asia Pacific’, then ‘India’.

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