It rained in certain parts of Goa on Sunday, November 6 – not a normal phenomenon for the state. It seemed to be a reminder from nature that COP27, the annual climate change conference that began the same day in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, had to be taken seriously.
With COP27 in session and the unexpected rainfall, it is interesting to relook at what the State Action Plan on Climate Change for Goa states quite early in the document.
It states, “Goa’s mean annual temperature has increased by over 1°C since the beginning of the 20th century till date (1901-2018), much of it during 1990-2018 period. The mean annual rainfall in Goa has increased by 68% over the period 1901-2015. With increasing rainfall the inter-annual rainfall variability in the state has also increased especially since 1970s. While mean annual rainfall in the state has increased, moderate to light rainfall days (IMD category I) in Goa have declined over 1901-2015 period, whereas very heavy and exceptionally heavy rainfall events (IMD category III) in the state have increased by a dramatic more than 100%.”
We have actually seen this happening in the past years. Goa ended the monsoon season on September 30 with a 10 per cent less than average rainfall. The season, however, was considered normal as anything between -19 and +19 is considered normal. This comes after two surplus seasons with the monsoon of 2020 having been the wettest in a hundred years, yet forgotten so quickly and so easily.
The monsoon has been above normal six times, below normal at other times, and the oscillation in the amount of rainfall during the seasons has been varied. In 2014 it was 3 per cent above normal, in 2015 it was 20 per cent below normal, the following year in 2016 it was just 1 per cent below normal and in 2017 it was 14 per cent below the average, and continued in the same trend in 2018 when it was 19 per cent below normal. In 2019 there was a rise when it was 33 per cent above normal, and in 2020 it again was 44 per cent above normal, indicating no consistency in the monsoon pattern in the past years.
The average rainfall for Goa is 2975.6 mm or 117.14 inches. This was just one season, and it cannot be considered a pattern. In the past decade, however, the weather has successfully lived up to its reputation of being unpredictable.
The Action Plan further states that the mean annual temperatures in Goa “may increase by around 2°C in 2030s compared to 1901-1950 period, and further to by around 4°C by 2080s under high emission scenarios. Goa will start experiencing heat waves (>40C) beyond the 2040s, as maximum temperature increases by about 5°C towards the century end under high emission scenarios. Minimum temperatures are expected to rise even more by up to 8°C by the century end under the high emission scenarios. The mean annual rainfall in Goa is projected to slightly decline under high emission scenarios, which under low emission scenarios is projected to slightly increase.”
Another warning from the Action Plan is that the “flood vulnerability analysis from the state reveals that 14.73% of the land is under 15 meter elevation, much of it in the coastal zones, and are severely vulnerable to flooding both from extreme rainfall events and sea-level rise. In terms of vulnerability from floods and sea-level rise the Taluks Salcete, Tiswadi, and Bardez most vulnerable.”
As COP27 gets underway, in Goa we, too, need to get ready to tackle climate change, before it gets too tough to combat.