The climate in South India in the last few days has taken everyone by surprise. While the days in Bengaluru are quite cool, the nights are freezing. Many parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu are experiencing severely cold nights and sweltering afternoons. After the devastating Kerala floods and the havoc caused by cyclone Gaja, the dipping temperatures in late December and early January beg the question—is global warming to be blamed for this?
Senthil Kumar is a native of Munnar, Kerala. Speaking to the New Indian Express about this weather change, he said, “After the Kerala floods, the effects of climate change appear to be kicking in here, and Munnar is one of the most affected places. Earlier, the winter season used to be in the months of November and December, but now it has shifted to January.”
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) confirms that this is the coldest January that Kerala has experienced since 2014.
While this is certainly unusual, Pradeep John, popularly known as the weatherman of Tamil Nadu, has some interesting insights. “It is very common to see high pressure dominating the Indian peninsula during the months of January and February. At the same time, the Northeast monsoon has ceased completely since the New Year, and there is no moisture content in the atmosphere. With the absence of moisture, humidity and cloud cover, any heat that comes in is radiated back, leading to low temperatures all over South India,” he told the NIE.
Speaking to The News Minute, Dr Abhilash S, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the Cochin University of Science and Technology said, “It is because the polar vortex has weakened and this causes cold air to blow towards our part of the world. Another reason is caused by the western disturbance coming from the North West as a wave towards the East—towards India.”
The lack of humidity—which works like greenhouse gas and traps heat in lower altitude—has resulted in low temperatures.
IMD director K Santhosh told the Times of India, “There is a northerly wind blowing into the state from North India, which is causing this dip in temperatures.”
“Extreme cold weather conditions are prevailing in Delhi and other parts. We are receiving the cold winds from these northern regions, which is very dry. The reason for the dryness is that the winds come via the Western Ghats. Whatever moisture that the wind has is absorbed by the Western Ghats,” he told NIE.
Adding to this, CK Rajan, a senior atmospheric scientist says, “That is the reason why it is [colder] in Central Kerala, and there is a fall in minimum temperatures of 3-4 degrees Celsius in Idukki, Munnar and some other places. This is not likely to last for more than a couple of days.”
Although experts are saying that the cold in South India is not a direct consequence of global warming, it can have far-reaching consequences.
However, for now, we need to prepare ourselves and stay warm as the cold weather is likely to last for a few more days.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)