Indian Ocean hit by six heatwaves in 2021, temp rising by 0.15 degrees Celcius per decade

With the effects of climate change becoming more and more visible, the marine world is set to face the brunt of ocean warming. The Indian Ocean witnessed six marine heatwaves in 2021 over a period of 52 days. The situation was grim in the Bay of Bengal, which suffered four of the six weather-related events.

The information was released by Minister of Science & Technology Dr. Jitendra Singh in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on Thursday indicating the rampant impact of climate change on oceans surrounding the country. "These heatwaves did not break all previous records but were above normal. The western Indian Ocean heatwaves in 2021 were in the top four years in terms of the number of events," the minister said in his reply.

The weather-related incident is not a single event and the tropical Indian Ocean has been facing the brunt of rising temperatures for decades. The minister informed that the western Indian Ocean region experienced a four-fold rise in marine heatwave events (increasing at a rate of 1.5 events per decade) and the North Bay of Bengal experienced a two-to-three-fold rise (at a rate of 0.5 events per decade).

"In recent decades, the tropical Indian Ocean has experienced a rapid increase in ocean warming with an average rise in Sea Surface Temperature (SST) of about 1-degree Celsius over the period of 1951-2015 at a rate of 0.15 degrees Celsius per decade," The Ministry of Science & Technology said in a statement.

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IMD predicts low pressure system over Bay of Bengal to intensify into Cyclone Asani today

The low-pressure system brewing in South East Bay of Bengal and the adjoining Andaman Sea is likely to intensify into a depression yesterday (March 20) and lead to the first cyclone in March since 2000 in the North Indian Ocean region on Monday. And if that happens, the cyclonic storm will be called Asani, the name given by Sri Lanka.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the system is predicted to move north-eastwards and reach near the north Myanmar and southeast Bangladesh coasts on March 22.  The IMD has also predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall in a few places over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with isolated extremely heavy rainfall likely over the Nicobar Islands.

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Science-wise: Winds of Change in Indian Ocean as Rapid Warming Sparks Stronger Cyclones; Are We Ready?

 

Over four years ago, on November 28, when meteorologists detected a low-pressure system forming over the southwest Bay of Bengal, they initiated their four-stage action plan and released an advisory. But even before the weather department could issue a cyclone watch warning, the system quickly intensified from a ‘deep depression’ into a cyclonic storm and unleashed its fury on the coastal districts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and the Lakshadweep Islands.

Clearly, Cyclone Ockhi was an unusual phenomenon. Unlike any other cyclone before, it did not just rapidly intensify but also left the scientists bewildered with its long gestation period. It developed in the sea for 6.7 days, much longer than the average life of 4.7 days observed for ‘very severe cyclonic storms’ that had occurred over the north Indian Ocean (the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) until 2017. And, both these peculiarities put the scientists on alert of what was likely in the near future.

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Cyclone Asani To Form Over Bay of Bengal on March 21; Andaman & Nicobar on High Alert

This year’s first cyclone, Asani, is likely to form over the central Bay of Bengal on March 21. It is unlikely to cross the Indian coast but heavy rain and strong winds are expected over Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

 

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted that the year’s first cyclone, Asani, is likely to form over the central Bay of Bengal on March 21. Though the cyclone is unlikely to cross the Indian coast, heavy rain and strong winds are expected over Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It will move towards Bangladesh and Myanmar after hitting Andaman.Also Read - Depression Forms Over Bay Of Bengal, IMD Issues Weather Warning For Tamil Nadu

 

According to IMD’s rainfall warning, scattered to fairly widespread rainfall is very likely over Andaman & Nicobar Islands during March 16- 20. While isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall can be observed over the Nicobar Islands on March 19 with extremely heavy rainfall over the Islands on March 20. Also Read - Cyclone Gulab Could Re-born as Cyclone Shaheen Over Bay of Bengal in 2-3 Days, Predicts IMD

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Avoid travel to this 'very high' risk Indian Ocean island

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added just one new destination to its highest-risk category for travel on Monday -- and it's again an Indian Ocean island nation.

Moved up to Level 4 is Madagascar. Off the southeastern coast of Africa, it's known for its unique wildlife, including lemurs, and for being the world's fourth-largest island.

Last week, the much smaller Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius was the only destination added to Level 4. It remained at Level 4 this week, too.

The CDC places a destination at "Level 4: Covid-19 Very High" risk when more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents are registered in the past 28 days.

Madagascar resided at "Level 3: Covid-19 High" risk last week.

There are now about 120 destinations at Level 4. While the number of places in the "very high" risk category has been dropping since peaking around 140 in February, there are still more places in the Level 4 category than in all the other categories combined.

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Climate change: New ocean critter discovered helping to catch carbon.

Scientists have discovered a new "secret weapon" in the battle against climate change hidden within our oceans.

The creature - a single-celled microbe - can naturally capture and store carbon.

Researchers at the University of Technology Sydney, in Australia, say it could be used to help balance carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

"This is an entirely new species, never before described in this amount of detail," said Professor Martina Doblin, the study's senior author.

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