Preparing for Climate Change and Extreme Floods in Urban Areas | Prof. Kapil Gupta, IIT Bombay |
Albeit, earth has been experiencing the phenomenon of climate change since its inception but in current era it is of greater concern due to the rapid rate and the magnitude in which the changes are materializing. The bigger threat imposed by the climate change is the augmentation in intensity and frequency of the extreme weather related events. The world is experiencing more episodes of weather associated hazards such as intense heat waves, flooding, urban flooding, cloudbursts, flash floods, droughts, landslides, coastal hazards and so on. The Kedarnath tragedy (2013), inundation in Gujarat, Bihar, Maharashtra, North-east states, Kerala in recent years, slope failures due to unprecedented precipitation, thunderstorms and lightning in states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and other states are few examples of havoc propelled by the climate change in India.
Today more than half of global population belongs to cities. The increasing concentration of population is exposing greater number of people to the window of climate change vulnerability, especially in developing countries. The phenomenon of urban heat island in which the gradient of core city temperature is higher than that of its outer surrounding, shows how the built environment created by the human institutes its own kind of micro climate as consequences of alteration in land-use and land-cover. The intensity of such trends will further intensify due to changing climatic conditions exposing urbanites to extreme weather related hazards. The urban dwellers along with the key services in urban areas such as energy, transportation, health, water supply and wastewater management, sanitation, solid waste management and communication will be at risk enforced by the climate change and extreme weather events. The risks involved include losses of lives, economic and disruption in the smooth functioning of the cities. The impact of climate change and resultant extreme weather events impacts each and every region inconstantly and to combat the challenges we need cross-cutting, cross-departmental and cross-sectoral holistic approaches. Mainstreaming action plans for climate change in urban planning is the need of the hour.
The increase in occurrence and severity is a wake-up call for all agencies to take appropriate action for prevention, preparedness and mitigation in order to save lives, livestock, property and infrastructure. It becomes a challenge for disaster managers to take preventive and mitigation measures through preparation of action plan. There is a need to understand the salient features of Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events and associated hazards and guidance for early warning and communication, keeping in mind system gap areas, challenges and opportunities.