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Thread: Climate Change: Impact: Flora and Fauna

  1. #1
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    Default Climate Change: Impact: Flora and Fauna

    Dear All,
    I found this interesting article in the Times of India about the impact of climate change on our flora and fauna.

    Why flowers bloom late in Kerala and birds breed early


    Cassia fistula, or the kani konna, the yellow flower associated with Vishu celebrations in Kerala, bloomed so late last year that it couldn't be used for the festivities.The drongo has changed its breeding behaviour, and chikungunya, the deadly viral fever, has staged a comeback in recent years in Tamil Nadu. In Andhra Pradesh, flood-prone areas are now in constant need of newer flood mitigation plans as the rains here too have changed their known patterns.

    The devil of climate change is making home in god's own country. Concerns range from its impact on rain-fed agriculture to lifestyles of coastal communities, from the region's biodiversity in general to the shrinking of ecosystems in the Western Ghats.

    "Perhaps the best examples of plants shifting their flowering season and birds altering their breeding patterns are the konna flowers and the drongo,'' says V S Vijayan, chairman of the Kerala Biodiversity Board. "Earlier they used to flower in April, in time for Vishu. But last year, the trees flowered in October and the flowers were lost before Vishu," recounts the noted scientist who led an agitation against a hydro-electric project in Silent Valley in the state's north.

    "The signs are also showing in the drongo's behaviour. The insectivorous birds used to have their eggs hatched by February-March , but now they do it much earlier, in accordance with the change," Vijayan points out.

    A study conducted by the Kochi-based Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has also shown different marine species reacting to the rising heat. "The state's coasts were abundant with oil sardines that require warm temperatures for spawning. Now we notice that their spawning area has increased up to the Maharashtra and Orissa coasts, indicating rising temperature in the water there," says E Vivekanandan , principal scientist and head of the Demersal Fisheries Division at CMFRI.

    Another instance, he says, is the shift in the spawning season of at least two varieties of threadfin bream (kili meen) to the cooler months of October to March. "This is because the average temperature in the seawater has risen by 0.3°C in the last 15 years. It could go up by another 2.5°C by the end of the century.''

    In Chennai, where monsoon season flooding and drinking water availability during summer are perennial concerns, the changing pattern of rainfall is already causing anxiety. "The rains will be short and intense in future. Administrators will have to evolve new models for flood mitigation," Prof Ram Ramanathan, a renowned climatologist , had said soon after several parts of the southern metro were inundated during last year's monsoon.

    Scientists from Tamil Nadu working on climate change are convinced rainfall patterns have perceptibly changed: heavy downpours for a few days replacing the usual rains spread over months. "New approaches will have to be evolved in cities, coastal areas and in the deltas as well," says Professor Ramanathan, a distinguished professor of climate and atmospheric science.

    "Changes induced by climate change can be noticed along the coast. There is a loss of habitat and bio-diversity in coastal areas,'' says Prof R Ramesh, director, Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University. His team of researchers has noticed increased concentration of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, but the sea level has not risen as seen off the Bengal or Bangladesh coasts.

    Apart from climate change, human-induced pressure has also contributed equally to these changes, Ramesh says. While the density of population in Tamil Nadu's coast is 1,000 per sq km, it is 40 or 50 per sq km in most nations, he notes, adding that the higher methane presence is due to heavier sewage flow into the coastal waters.

    Cultivation patterns have changed along the Western Ghats as deforestation is taking its toll. Plantations in forest areas have led to soil becoming loose, triggering landslides.

    Resurfacing of diseases like chikungunya is being linked to climate change too. The virus breeds and becomes virulent due to the extended warmer season (just like mosquitoes storming Darjeeling and malaria catching up with Himachal Pradesh), says E Ramji, scientist in-charge , Centre for Environmental Education (CEE), Tamil Nadu.

    Funded by Norway, ClimaRice is an integrated approach underway in Cauvery delta to assess sensitivity of the rice eco-system to climate change. While the International Pacific Research Centre at Hawaii uses high resolution regional climate models to understand future impacts on monsoon and frequency and intensity of drought in the study area, the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University will develop hydrological and crop weather modelling.

    In Karnataka, where 80 per cent of agriculture is rain-fed , the impact of climate change on the Western Ghats has got experts into thinking of an action plan that can adapt to the socio-economic and environmental consequences. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has proposed to the Karnataka government a "vulnerability study" of agriculture , coastal communities and biodiversity.

    The source article can be found here:

  2. #2
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    Default No swallows, no snow. And soon, no apples either

    Dear All,
    Sharing another article on the impact of climate change.

    No swallows, no snow. And soon, no apples either

    DEEP GAZMER & ANAND BODH TIMES NEWS NETWORK , TOI Crest 5 December 2009, 03:32am IST

    There was a time, not too long ago, when the air around Darjeeling was as crisp as the tea it produced. The abusive Indian summer hardly ever touched the Queen of the Hills and tourists had a good time round the year. But that's changing.

    Flora and fauna are depleting and, landslides, brought about by changing rainfall patterns, are now common. The changing climate has impacted the agricultural sector, too. With water resources drying up, those who live in the hill town face acute drinking water crisis as well.

    The dark winters are giving way, too. These days, there's more winter sunshine in the Hills than in the Terai. It's been years since schools gave sunshine holidays to excited students. There is more of it now. Perhaps it has to do with the sun, but rhododendrons and magnolia are blooming as early as January and it is surprising a lot of people.

    One of them happens to be Bharat Prakash Rai, secretary of the Federation of Society for Environment Protection (FOSEP) in Darjeeling. "Normally, the flowers would bloom around February," he says, " but the January blooming has confused many migratory bird species, used as they are to reaching later. Birds are pollinating agents, but due to early flowering, they are often absent in the region due to this confusion.''

    A few years ago, places like Kurseong and Tindharia used to swarm with sparrows and swallows. The birds were virtually everywhere - lined up atop electric poles and telephone wires, a sight that was part of the landscape. In fact, the chirping of birds, especially swallows, is woven firmly into the very fabric of social life here, finding mention in folksongs and lore.

    Sadly, the birds have all but disappeared. Instead, the new winged guests of the Hills are flies and mosquitoes, hitherto found only in the plains of Siliguri and beyond. "Due to warmer weather and a corresponding increase in insects and germs, things like ginger and oranges are rarely growing to potential. It was different 10 years ago,'' says Rai, shaking his head.

    Marigold, an integral part of Nepali culture, what with Tihar and Bhaitika (the Nepali version of Diwali and Bhaidooj) being incomplete without garlands strung from these, grows perceptibly less these days. Men nowadays pin just one flower - instead of the time-honoured garland - to their coat lapels in nostalgic symbolism.

    The biggest threat though is the steady drying up of natural sources of water and the increasingly rare bouts of snowfall, something that can play havoc with an economy heavily dependent on tourism.

    There is deep concern in Himachal Pradesh too. At the Himalayan Chief Ministers' conclave on climate change, held in Shimla in October this year, environmentalists said the Hills couldn't wait for a comprehensive, national policy to come into effect. They said they needed to do something on their own. Now.

    They have reason to panic. Even as glaciers are melting, temperatures in the region are heading north, triggering unprecedented sale of ACs and fans. Kullu valley alone has become warmer by an average of 0.9°C in the last three decades. Other parts of the state have seen a rise ranging between 0.3 to 1.7°C, bringing down the number of 'chilling hours' required for a good apple crop from 1,200 to 800 hours.

    Until a few years ago, people in Kullu, especially around Bhuntar, Bajaura, Katrain and Patlikuhl, would have laughed it off as a joke had they been told that one day they would need fans to get a comfortable night's sleep.

    Dr R K Sood, joint member-secretary in the Himachal Pradesh State Council for Science Technology and Environment , says no one finds that funny anymore. According to Sood, global warming is just one aspect of the problem; largescale construction, rapid increase in the number of vehicles and population growth have compounded the problem.

    "Deforestation has reduced green cover in the hills. This, in turn, has resulted in a rise in temperatures. The situation will only worsen as global warming will melt glaciers, which are the main source of natural irrigation in the region, and lead to a droughtlike situation soon," says Dr S S Samant, scientist-in-charge at G B Pant Institute. Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University, Palampur, released a report recently, which says that in about 30 years from now, growing apples may not be possible in the traditional Himalayan belt of Kinnaur, Shimla and Kullu districts.

    Senior scientist G C Kuniyal says, "In 1965, the apple belt was found at a height of 1,000 metres above sea level. Now, it's 2,000 metres. Apple orchards, which were abundant in Bajaura (1,000 metres) until some years back, can now be found only in Katrain (2,000 metres) near Manali."

    As Dr Tej Partap Singh Thakur, vice-chancellor at Palam pur University, says, "Farmers are shifting from apples, which used to pump Rs 1,700 crore into the local economy, to other crops. And it's not just apples that are in danger.''

    The source article can be found here:

  3. #3
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    The study is thought provoking.Apart from major changes that climate change is the main cause, such as, non-seasonal rainfall, sudden rise/drop in temperatures during day/night, the minor changes such as the change in flowering pattern or breeding pattern show how the situation has become alarming wake-up call world wide.

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