New Delhi: Gulmarg, India’s winter wonderland known for its snow-covered slopes that attract skiers from across the country, is facing an unprecedented dry spell this year. It is the first January in several years that Gulmarg and Pahalgam, famous for their snowy landscapes, have seen no snow, raising concerns over the effects of global warming on India’s winters. These areas usually receive a minimum of four-to-six feet thick snow, have hardly any snow this winter. The social media is buzzing with people posting striking before and after photos of Gulmarg. Last year, the region was covered in a thick blanket of snow, with not an inch of ground visible. And, this year, the area appears dry, with no snow covering the ground.
Weather experts as well as those who depend on tourism for livelihood have expressed concern over the prolonged dry spell.
The video posted by news agency ANI on X (Formerly known as Twitter) also showcase the picturesque town in a barren and dry state with only sparse patches of snow visible on the ground.
#WATCH | Baramulla, J&K: Tourist destination Gulmarg witnesses dry spell this winter. The Kashmir Valley has experienced a 79% rainfall deficit throughout December and an absence of snow. According to the meteorological department, dry weather conditions will persist until… pic.twitter.com/8WS0bIXr9t
— ANI (@ANI) January 8, 2024
The Reason For A Dry Winter
According to the weather office, the tourist town has witnessed a dry spell this winter as the Kashmir Valley saw a 79 per cent drop in rainfall. The meteorological department has said that no immediate relief is expected as the dry weather conditions will persist until next month. Speaking to the news agency, ANI, Director of Kashmir Meteorological Centre Mukhtar Ahmad said,
The whole of December and the first week of January has been dry. There are no major precipitation chances in the coming days. The weather may remain dry till noon of January 16. There was a pattern of early snowfall for the last three to four years which is missing this year. There is no major spell. El Nino (An effect that is characterised by the warming of sea surface temperatures which can disrupt global weather patterns) has persisted since November and may continue till next month.
Speaking to NDTV, Mahesh Palawat, Vice President at Skymet Weather said that this season, India will witness a delayed and short winter. He added,
Usually, western disturbances begin around October and the last two months of the year see heavy snowfall and severe winter in the north. Now, these disturbances are weakening and snowfall is receding. Every year, October to February are getting hotter leading to shrinking winters.
2023 – The Warmest Year On Record
Meteorologists attribute the low snow to the ongoing El Nino weather event, which also led to 2023 being the warmest year on record. The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), which is the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme, also released a report on January 9, 2024, and highlighted that 2023 is confirmed as the warmest calendar year in global temperature data records going back to 1850, with global temperatures close to the 1.5°C limit. The other important things that were highlighted in this report:
- The report also said that the year 2023 was 0.60°C warmer than the 1991-2020 average and 1.48°C warmer than the 1850-1900 pre-industrial level
- It also said that 2023 marks the first time on record that every day within a year has exceeded 1°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial level
- Close to 50 per cent of days were more than 1.5°C warmer then the 1850-1900 level, and two days in November were, for the first time, more than 2°C warmer
- Each month from June to December in 2023 was warmer than the corresponding month in any previous year
- July and August 2023 were the warmest two months on record
- December 2023 was the warmest December on record globally, with an average temperature of 13.51°C, 0.85°C above the 1991-2020 average and 1.78°C above the 1850-1900 level for the month
Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service said,
2023 was an exceptional year with climate records tumbling like dominoes. Not only is 2023 the warmest year on record, it is also the first year with all days over 1°C warmer than the pre-industrial period. Temperatures during 2023 likely exceed those of any period in at least the last 100,000 years.
Carlo Buontempo, Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service added,
The extremes we have observed over the last few months provide a dramatic testimony of how far we now are from the climate in which our civilisation developed. This has profound consequences for the Paris Agreement and all human endeavours. If we want to successfully manage our climate risk portfolio, we need to urgently decarbonise our economy whilst using climate data and knowledge to prepare for the future.
Why Climate Change Is A Thing To Worry?
Climate change is impacting each one of us and directly contributing to humanitarian emergencies. From heatwaves, wildfires to floods, tropical storms, and hurricanes, the frequency of extreme weather events is increasing and so is its intensity. The World Health Organisation states that around 3.6 billion people already live in areas highly susceptible to climate change and between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 2,50,000 additional deaths per year, from undernutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress alone.
WHO also states that recent research attributes 37 per cent of heat-related deaths to human-induced climate change. It also adds that heat-related deaths among those over 65 have risen by 70 per cent in two decades.
WHO underlines the fact that the ongoing climate crisis threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health and poverty reduction and to further widen existing health inequalities between and within populations. It states that over 930 million people – around 12 per cent of the world’s population – spend at least 10 per cent of their household budget to pay for health care. With the poorest people largely uninsured, health shocks and stresses already currently push around 100 million people into poverty each year, and the impacts of climate change is further worsening this trend.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.