Saturday, September 21, 2019

Extreme thunderstorm at Kalimpong (20Sep2019)

Photo credits : Ms Shreya Gurung

* Having worked on the landslide problem of this region, I am very worried when we have intense rainfall towards the end of the monsoons. Some of our major landslide events (Oct 1968, Sep2007) have taken place at this time when the soil is saturated in the months of monsoon rain and a heavy downpour occurs triggering slope failure.
Last evening, we were lucky - the rainfall was extreme and intense reaching 215mm/hr and staying over a 100mm/hr for a good 20mins. Maybe what saved us was:
a. The past 10days have seen deficient rainfall with the last 2 days being dry.
b. The storm quickly moved away from us and within an hour we were dry again.
* And this seems to be the new normal where we alternate between rainfall deficiencies and surplus, where we either have no water and our fields and springs are dry or when we have so much water that it causes landslides and death.
* Having said this, I would also like to bring to light the recent landslides in Tsong, Yuksom area of Sikkim where there was no warning of heavy rain in the area as in the case of Kalimpong yesterday. These small local weather events which can result in heavy downpours but do not show up on satellite imagery and therefore give no warning are increasingly the ones we must guard against.

Total rainfall in the thunderstorm on 20Sep2019 42.7mm

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

STH activities - Participating in 'Deluge and Disaster' a Sensitization Program in Siliguri College (Dept of Geography): 17Sep2019

A sensitization programme on climate change entitled " Deluge and Disaster: Towards Mitigation and Adaptation " was organised by the PG Dept of Geography and Applied Geography, Siliguri College in collaboration with the Center for Mitigation of Climate Change and Global Warming ( CMCCGW), on 17.09.2019, in the Dept of Geography, Siliguri College.
Anthropogenic climate change is one of the greatest challenges that humanity is facing in the 21st Century. Hence, the need to motivate and inspire young minds to ponder upon questions and issues that confront us today.
With this main objective and with the target audience primarily being the post graduate students of the
Department, the Programme was just the right mix of profound and proactive exploration of the core theme, under the tutelage of very distinguished experts:
  • Dr S. Mishra(Retd. Ag-meteorologist, WB) presented an in-depth research-based account of the climate change patterns in West Bengal for a period of over 100 years.
  • Wg Cdr Praful Rao (retd), President, STH spoke on 'Water - too little or too much, the new normal.'
  • Dr P. T. Bhutia( Ex APCCF, NB) presented a scientific account, which was at the same time, an empathetic and poignant portrayal of the impact on climate change on the Jaldhaka WLS.
  • DR S. Halder ( Exe. Engineer,WB) gave an enlightening talk on Deluge Disaster Risk Assessment. Dr. S. Ghosh( Director, Soil Survey, WB) explored issues of climate change vis a vis agriculture, while Smt Majumdar ( President, IRGSD, Kolkata) addressed the psychological response to climate induced disasters.

The quality of the lectures and the wisdom imparted by the speakers ensured that the students were inspired and motivated to look at issues of climate change, with the gravity and seriousness it deserves.

My thanks to Dr Nima Lama for the write up.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling Sikkim Himalaya

Saturday, September 14, 2019

STH Activities: Working on Mountain Spring Rejuvenation with ICIMOD (&TMI) in Kalimpong - 13Sep2019

Excerpt from NITI Ayog's 'Inventory and Revival of Springs in the Himalayas for Water Security'
'Mountain springs are the primary source of water for rural households in the Himalayan region. For many people, springs are the sole source of water. For example, a major proportion of drinking water supply in the mountainous parts of Uttarakhand is spring based, while in Meghalaya all villages in the State use
springs for drinking, irrigation and for livestock. As per a rough estimate, there are five million springs across India, out of which nearly 3 million are in the IHR alone. Despite the key role that they play, springs have not received their due attention and many are drying up. Spring discharge is reported to be declining due to increased water demand, land use change, and ecological degradation. With climate change and rising temperatures, rise in rainfall intensity and reduction in its temporal spread, and a marked decline in winter rain, the problem of dying springs is being increasingly felt across the Indian Himalayan Region...
Of late, efforts to preserve and save springs from drying up and efforts to recharge them are gaining momentum....'

Praful Rao
Kalimpong District,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Rainfall data of Darjeeling Sikkim Himalayas - August 2019

Rainfall data of Siliguri, Gangtok (East Sikkim), Dentam (W Sikkim) and Damthang (S Sikkim) are from IMD.

There were no major landslide events in August 2019 in our region.
My thanks to all my friends who helped in compiling the above rainfall data.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya