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Why Cyclone Tauktae is unique? Is climate change making cyclones in the Arabian sea more dangerous?

Why Cyclone Tauktae is unique? Is climate change making cyclones in the Arabian sea more dangerous?

Relevance

  • GS 3 || Disaster Management || Major Disasters || Cyclones

Why in news?

  • A powerful cyclonic system, Tauktae, is expected to make landfall in Gujarat after barrelling up the Arabian Sea in the Indian Ocean.

Cyclone Tauktae

  • Tauktae is a tropical cyclone that is currently active and strengthening and is threatening Gujarat, India, as well as Karnataka, Goa, and Maharashtra.
  • It is the fourth cyclone to form in the Arabian Sea in the last four years, and the fourth to do so during the pre-monsoon season (April to June).
  • Since 2018, all of these cyclones have been classified as ‘Severe Cyclone’ or higher.

Why such rapid intensification?

  • To stay alive, every tropical cyclone needs energy.
  • Warm water and humid air over the tropical ocean are commonly used to generate this energy.
  • Seawater up to 50 meters deep has been extremely warm recently, providing enough energy for Cyclone Tauktae to intensify.
  • The steeper the pressure drop, the more heat is released by the condensation of water vapour.
  • To form cyclones, a low-pressure system goes through many stages of intensification.

What is a tropical cyclone?

  • Cyclones are low-pressure systems that form over warm tropical waters, with gale-force winds near the centre.
  • The winds can extend hundreds of kilometres (miles) from the eye of the storm.
  • Sucking up vast quantities of water, they often produce torrential rains and flooding resulting in major loss of life and property damage.
  • They are also known as hurricanes or typhoons, depending on where they originate in the world when they reach sustained winds of at least 119 kilometers per hour (74 miles per hour).
    • Tropical cyclones (hurricanes) are the most powerful weather events on Earth, according to NASA.

What is a Temperate Cyclone?

  • These are storms that occur outside the tropics.
  • These are referred to as extratropical cyclones. Other names are frontal cyclones and wave cyclones.
  • They occur in polar regions, temperate and high latitudes.

Developed in the Arabian Sea

  • Tauktae is the fourth cyclone in consecutive years to have developed in the Arabian Sea, that too in the pre-monsoon period (April to June).
  • After Cyclone Mekanu in 2018, which struck Oman, Cyclone Vayu in 2019 struck Gujarat, followed by Cyclone Nisarga in 2020 that struck Maharashtra.
  • All these cyclones since 2018 have been categorized as either ‘Severe Cyclone’ or above.

The linkage between climate change and cyclones

  • The changing trend in frequency and intensity of cyclones in the region is being attributed to a rise in average sea surface temperatures driven by global warming.
  • Oceans soak up more than 90% of the heat generated by greenhouse gases, leading to rising water temperatures.
    • Scientists have observed that Arabian Sea temperature has increased between 1.2-1.4 degrees Celsius in the recent four decades.
    • Rising sea levels could also boost storm surges from cyclones, making them even more deadly and destructive.

What else is making them more deadly?

  • Storm surge
    • The term “storm surge” refers to rising seas whipped up by a storm, creating a wall of water several metres higher than the normal tide level.
    • Cyclones can unleash catastrophic storm surges – tsunami-like flooding —when they make landfall.
    • The surge can extend for dozens of kilometers inland, overwhelming homes and making roads impassable.
  • Examples
    • 2013’s Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left 7,350 dead or missing in the central Philippines, primarily due to the surge.
    • A storm surge of up to four metres (13 feet) is likely to inundate some coastal districts of Gujarat during Tauktae’s landfall, according to the Indian Meteorological Department.

Disaster Response

  • The impact of the storm can be considerably mitigated by specialized disaster response forces, who are well trained and equipped and are adequately supported by the defence forces in rescue and relief work.

Some cyclones of the Past

  • Bhola Cyclone – 1970
    • It struck Bangladesh (Then, East Pakistan) and West Bengal in 1970.
    • It was the strongest cyclone of the 1970 North Indian Ocean Cyclone Season.
    • It is considered the deadliest cyclone causing around 3-5 lakh deaths.
  • Cyclone Fani – 2019
    • After the Odisha Cyclone 1999, it was the second strongest cyclone to strike Odisha.
  • Cyclone Amphan – 2020
    • It was a super tropical cyclone that affected the Indian states of West Bengal and Odisha; and Bangladesh.
    • It originated in the Bay of Bengal in May 2020.
  • Cyclone Nisarga – 2020
    • It was a severe cyclonic storm that formed over the Arabian Sea.
    • Maharashtra and Gujarat were affected
  • Cyclone Nivar – 2020
    • It was a severe cyclonic storm that affected Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in November 2020.
  • Cyclone Burevi – 2020
    • It is a cyclonic storm that affected Tamil Nadu and Kerala in India.
    • It followed the Nivar Cyclone and originated in the southwest region of the Bay of Bengal, in December 2020.

Disaster Management

  • As per the Disaster Management Act, 2005, “disaster management” means a continuous and integrated process of planning, organizing, coordinating, and implementing measures that are necessary or expedient for
    • Prevention of danger or threat of any disaster
    • Mitigation or reduction of risk of any disaster or its severity or consequences;
    • Capacity-building;
    • Preparedness to deal with any disaster;
    • Prompt response to any threatening disaster situation or disaster;
    • Assessing the severity or magnitude of effects of any disaster; evacuation, rescue, and relief
    • Rehabilitation and reconstruction;
  • Disaster management includes seven administrative decisions and operational activities that involve
    • Prevention
    • Mitigation
    • Preparedness
    • Response
    • Recovery
    • Rehabilitation

Three Phases of Disaster Management

  • Pre – Disaster: Before a disaster to reduce the potential for human, material, or environmental losses caused by hazards and to ensure that these losses are minimized when the disaster strikes.
    • Prevention and Mitigation
      • Mitigation embraces all measures taken to reduce both the effects of the hazard itself and the vulnerable conditions to reduce the scale of a future disaster.
      • Aimed at reducing the physical, economic, and social vulnerability to threats and the underlying causes for this vulnerability.
    • Preparedness
      • Preparedness includes, for example, the formulation of viable emergency plans, the development of warning systems, the maintenance of inventories, public awareness and education, and the training of personnel.
    • Early Warning
      • This is the process of monitoring the situation in communities or areas known to be vulnerable to slow-onset hazards and passing the knowledge of the pending hazard to people in harm‟sway.
    • During Disaster: It is to ensure that the needs and provisions of victims are met to alleviate and minimize suffering.
      • Response
        • Include setting up control rooms, putting the contingency plan in action.
        • The emergency relief activities are undertaken during and immediately following a disaster, which includes immediate relief, rescue, and the damage needs assessment and debris clearance.
      • Post Disaster: After a disaster to achieve rapid and durable recovery which does not reproduce the original vulnerable conditions.
        • Recovery is used to describe the activities that encompass the three overlapping phases of emergency relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.
        • Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation includes the provision of temporary public utilities and housing as interim measures to assist long-term recovery.
        • Reconstruction: Reconstruction attempts to return communities to improved pre-disaster functioning. It includes such as the replacement of buildings; infrastructure and lifeline facilities so that long-term development prospects are enhanced rather than reproducing the same conditions, which made an area or population vulnerable in the first place.
        • Development: Longterm prevention/disaster reduction measures for examples like construction of embankments against flooding, irrigation facilities as drought-proofing measures, increasing plant cover to reduce the occurrences of landslides, land use planning, construction of houses capable of withstanding the onslaught of heavy rain/wind speed and shocks of earthquakes are some of the activities that can be taken up as part of the development plan.
        • The Odisha government has received Central assistance of meagre one-sixth (₹31,945.80 crores) of the losses incurred in eight different cyclones that visited after the Super Cyclone 1999.

Recent initiatives

  • The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) organized the 1st International Conference on “Landslides Risk Reduction and Resilience” in November 2019 in New Delhi.
  • Hosted the South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise (SAADMEx) and the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR).
  • India has also offered its expertise and capabilities in DRR such as the South Asia satellite, GSAT-9, and the Tsunami Early Warning Centre to other countries.
  • Disaster Management was one of the important Agenda items the BIMSTEC leaders deliberated upon during the Goa BRICS Summit in October 2016 where BIMSTEC leaders were the Special Invitees.

Way forward

  • There is a need of harmonizing the national and local level disaster-resilient bylaws, land-use zoning, resource planning, early warning system establishments, and technical competence.
  • The government should take commonalities from success stories and institutionalize them. For example,the Built Back Better Program of the Gujarat government after the 2001 earthquake.
  • Disaster Risk Reduction should be an important aspect of global poverty reduction initiatives.
  • Mitigation and increasing resilience
    • The government must work towards crafting policies to improve disaster mitigation abilities and to increase resilience among communities.
      • Climate-proofing lives and dwellings must be a high priority for vulnerable areas.
    • This would warrant a multi-sectoral approach that would involve building sturdy homes of suitable design, creating adequate storm shelters, and ensuring financial protection against calamities through insurance for property and assets.

Conclusion

  • Nature is unpredictable. Nothing in the world can withstand its fury. Natural disaster comes without warning. India should prepare to mitigate and deflect the destruction caused by Cyclones. India needs to employ more technology, strict following of command structure, and most importantly the participation and cooperation of local communities in the affected area.

Mains model question

  • In recent years, strong cyclones have been developing in the Arabian Sea more frequently than earlier. Discuss

References