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Thread: Alarming rise in surface water temperature in Sundarbans

  1. #1
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    Default Alarming rise in surface water temperature in Sundarbans

    Dear All,
    I found this article in Hindu regarding an alarming rise of water temperature in the Sundarbans. The temperature has increased by 0.5 degrees per decade, much higher than any ocean in any other part of the world.

    Alarming rise in surface water temperature in Sundarbans
    PTI New Delhi, November 29, 2009Scientists have noticed an alarming rise in surface water temperatures in the highly eco-sensitive Sundarbans delta over the past three decades, a phenomenon they attribute to climate change.

    “Specifically, the temperature in these waters has risen at the rate of 0.5 degrees Celsius per decade, much higher than that observed globally or for the Indian Ocean,” marine scientists Abhijit Mitra and Avijit Gangopadhyay said.

    The signal of global warming has already been transmitted to the mangrove—dominated Indian Sundarbans. The surface water temperatures in both the sectors have shown significant rising trends, for both pre-monsoon and monsoon periods, they said.
    Quantitatively, surface water temperatures in the

    Sundarbans have risen by 6.14 per cent in the western sector and by 6.12 per cent in the eastern sector over the past 27 years, at a rate of approximately 0.05 degrees Celsius every year, Mitra, a senior scientist at Calcutta University’s Department of Marine Science, said.

    “This rate is, in fact, much higher than the observed and documented warming trends in the tropical Pacific Ocean (0.01- 0.015 degrees Celsius per year), tropical Atlantic Ocean (0.01- 0.02 degrees Celsius per year) and the planet itself (0.006 degrees Celsius per year),” they said reporting the findings in latest issue of Current Science.

    The scientists observed that the rate of temperature increase was higher during 1993-2007 as compared to 1980-92.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report also states that the rate of warming was higher during 1993—2007.

    Along with the warming of surface water temperature, the scientists also noticed decreased salinity at the mouth of the Ganga at the at the western end of this deltaic complex, a phenomena they attribute to increased melting of Himalayan glaciers.

    “The rivers in the western sector of the Indian Sundarbans — Hooghly and Muriganga — being continuations of the River Ganga, receive the snow melt water of the Himalayas.

    “The Himalayan glaciers, popularly called ‘the lifelines of major Indian rivers’, have entered into the phase of deglaciation on account of global warming,” Mitra and Gangopadhyay said.

    Spread over 10,000 sq km, the Sundarbans, the largest of such forests in the world, lie within the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers in the Bay of Bengal.

    The region is famous for its natural beauty and is home to at least 260 bird species, Indian otters, spotted deer, wild boar, fiddler crabs, mud crabs, three marine lizard species and five marine turtle species. They also host threatened species such as the estuarine crocodile, Indian python and the iconic Bengal tiger.

    The source article can be found here:

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    Default Sundarbans water warming eight times faster than global average

    Sundarbans water warming eight times faster than global average

    IANS 1 December 2009, 10:20am IST

    NEW DELHI: In the Sundarbans, surface water temperature has been rising at the rate of 0.5 degree Celsius per decade over the past three decades, eight times the rate of global warming, says a new study.

    That makes the Sundarbans one of the worst climate change hotspots on the globe.

    The study, carried out over 27 years from 1980 by scientists from India and the US, found a change of 1.5 degrees Celsius, a clear challenge to the survival of flora and fauna in the world's largest mangrove forest.

    A Unesco World Heritage site, the Sundarbans covers 9,630 sq km in India and Bangladesh. It is home to a number of endangered species.

    "Surface water temperature in the deltaic complex of the Indian Sundarbans experienced a gradual increase of 0.5 degree Celsius per decade in last three decades. This rate is much higher than the global warming rate of 0.06 degree Celsius per decade and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)-documented rate of 0.2 degree Celsius per decade in the Indian Ocean during 1970-99," Abhijit Mitra, professor in the Department of Marine Sciences, Calcutta University, told IANS.

    The study published in the latest issue of scientific journal Current Science found that faster melting of Himalayan glaciers have decreased the salinity at the western end of the Indian Sundarbans while salinity has increased on the eastern end due to clogging of connections of the estuaries with fresh water on account of heavy siltation and solid waste disposal from Kolkata.

    The scientists also studied variations in dissolved oxygen, pH level (a measure of acidity), transparency and water quality to know the impact of global warming on the ecosystem.

    "The surface water pH over the past 30 years has reduced in the region, thus increasing acidification. The variations in salinity and increased temperature could be reasons for observed variation in pH and dissolved oxygen," said Mitra.

    The concentration of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the western sector of the Sundarbans showed an increasing trend in contrast to the eastern part where it is decreasing significantly.

    "Depletion in dissolved oxygen can cause major shifts in the ecological habitation in the region. Rising temperature could also be one of the reasons for decreasing dissolved oxygen in the Sundarbans," he said.

    Global warming accelerates the process of erosion in coastal and estuarine zones either through increased summer flow from the glaciers or by increased tidal amplitude due to sea level rise.

    Erosion and sedimentation processes, along with subsequent churning action, increase the saturation of suspended solids, thus decreasing the transparency.

    "The reduced transparency affects the growth and survival of phytoplankton, the small microscopic plants in the oceans that produce three-fourths of the earth's oxygen supply. Damage to this community may adversely affect the food chain in this mangrove-dominated deltaic complex, which is the nursery and breeding ground of 150-250 species of fish and other organisms," said Mitra.

    The study concluded that although the observed changes could result from a combination of climate change and human interventions and related phenomena, the changes are real and their impact will be felt in the ecosystem in the coming years.

    The link to the source article:

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