Tuesday, August 16, 2022

We don’t have the science to predict localized heavy rainfall: Earth Sciences Secretary

Three days after the devastating Amarnath Yatra tragedy in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the top official from the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) on Monday said there is no science to predict such highly localized events.

At least 17 people were killed, and several others suspected to be washed away at the holy cave shrine of Amarnath on Friday evening due to a flash flood as a result of heavy rainfall around the holy cave. The authorities had stopped the Yatra in the wake of the disaster and it was resumed only on Monday.

While the Jammu & Kashmir authorities and much of the media continued to blame the tragic incident on a cloudburst near the cave, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had said it was a highly localized extreme rainfall event. As per the IMD, a cloudburst’ is one where there is 100 mm rainfall in just one hour. As per the data from the automatic weather station (AWS) at the holy cave, there was no rainfall from 8.30 a.m. till 4.30 p.m. and only 31 mm rainfall between 4.30 p.m. and 6.30 p.m.

Clarifying that cloudburst is a definition decided by the scientists, MoES Secretary M Ravichandran told media persons that 100 mm or not, heavy rainfall events are set to increase not just at Amarnath but in other parts of the country too owing to the changing climatic conditions.

“(However), we need to observe and understand these types of processes. For that we don’t have sufficient understanding. Isolated localised heavy rainfall less than a few kms are very difficult to predict, we don’t have science to predict it,” Ravichandran said.

“The extreme is maximum; now the extreme itself has shifted to further extreme. So, we need to define heavy rainfall, extremely heavy rainfall and such various criterion again. The light rains are no more (happening),” he said.

He added that the science to predict such highly localized high rainfall events is not available in any country.

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