Climate Adaptation


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Cyclone Phailin is a category 5 storm headed for India. Media reports storm is as powerful as Katrina, and nearly half the size of India.

Cyclone Phailin is forecast to hit the coast between Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh state and Paradip in Odisha state late on Saturday with a maximum wind speed of 220 km per hour (135mph), the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its latest bulletin.

But both London-based Tropical Storm and the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Centre forecast winds reaching 315 km per hour (195 mph) on landfall, classifying Phailin as a Category 5 storm - the most powerful .

"Phailin is already worse than what the IMD is forecasting. A recent satellite estimate put Phailin’s current intensity on par with 2005’s Hurricane Katrina in the United States,” said Eric Holthaus, meteorologist for Quartz, a U.S.-based online magazine which covers global economy-related issues.

"Everything I know as a meteorologist tells me this is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane - among the strongest on earth in 2013. That would mean Phailin could be the strongest cyclone ever measured in the Indian Ocean."

Full story here.

Track storm here.

Breakout Year for India’s Narrow-Headed Softshell Turtle

One of India’s most iconic and recognizable turtles, the Giant Narrow-headed softshell turtle (Chitra indica) hasbeen a primary focus of TSA India’s program since 2007.

Locating and protecting nests in the upper Ganges, Chambal and lower Yamuna river systems has resulted in thousands of hatchling being released that likely would have not survived.  In the process, much has been learned about the nesting ecology, abundance and distribution of this heavily hunted species.  However, efforts to start a pilot husbandry program, with the goal of refining captive rearing techniques that would allow the development of an assurance colony, have met with setbacks and frustrations over the years.

In an effort to reverse this trend, a solar water heater was installed at one of our captive facilities – Kukrail – and the enclosure was wrapped in plastic sheeting to retain heat.  50 hatchlings were retained for rearing in early 2013, but 30 perished due to temperature extremes.  However 20 survived and now weigh more than 150 grams as of September 2013.  Last week another 60 eggs from two nests were moved to Kukrail for incubation and headstarting again this year.

From Turtle Survival Alliance, one of my favorite conservation non-profits.

India's law to feed poor threatens to gobble up climate funding

The best case against funding climate change policy?

India’s National Action Plan for Climate Change, a hugely ambitious programme requiring billions of dollars, is being starved of funds, officials say, as a new law aimed at giving food to the needy threatens to eat up a large chunk of government spending.

In 2009, the government set up eight national missions to tackle climate change: the Solar Mission, Energy Mission, Sustainable Habitat Mission, Water Mission, Himalayan Mission, Sustainable Agriculture Mission, Green India Mission and Strategic Knowledge Mission.

The funding allocated for these missions during the 12th Five Year Plan, which ends in 2017, was just over $40 billion. The largest amount was earmarked for the agriculture mission at $17.6 billion, followed by $8.36 billion for the Green India Mission, which aims to expand forests.

But officials and experts warn that these spending plans are now at risk due to the arrival of the National Food Security Act, which was passed last month.

The controversial new law commits the government to providing heavily subsidised food to around 819 million poor people in urban and rural areas. The legislation mandates the state public distribution system to provide 5 kg of rice per person per month at not more than 3 rupees (Rs) per kg, wheat at not more than Rs 2 per kg, and coarse grain at not more than Rs 1 per kg.

According to the act, the cheap food will be extended to 75 percent of rural dwellers and 50 percent of those living in urban areas, which amounts to roughly two thirds of the South Asian nation’s population of over 1.2 billion people.

Map: More than half of humanity lives within this circle

In yet another illustration of China’s and India’s enormous populations, Reddit recently surfaced the above population map, which claims more than half the world’s people live within a circle superimposed over a section of Asia.

Amazingly, the numbers check out.

Trip to Nepal

This October, I’m headed to Nepal to check out some work by some climate scientists and glacial researchers that I co-manage. Fun times. My recent daily readings have shifted away from urban adaptation to glacial science in the Himalayas and Andes.

This paper is an update to previous research by a scientist Dr. Walter Immerzeel. He does a major U-turn, where before his research showed that glacial rivers would shrink due to climate change. Now he is reversing, showing that climate change will in fact keep the rivers flowing.

The latest research led by Dr Walter Immerzeel, a scientist from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and visiting scientist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Nepal, indicates that increasing rains would prevent rivers from drying up. His earlier works, published in Science in June 2010, indicated worrisome drop in the levels of the same rivers by 2050

New results from Dr Immerzeel’s research indicate that water levels of the rivers will not drop over the next century due to an increase in monsoon rains in the region. However, climate change will result in smaller glaciers and less meltwater in the Himalayas. The research shows that although the size of the glaciers in the basins of the Indus and the Ganges will decrease in the 21st century, water discharge will however increase.

Sorry if you have already, but you should post something about the land grab in Africa by China, India, USA, etc. I've only read a little bit about it, but it seems to be an interesting issue, relating to both climate change and the increasing population (and the resulting problem of where the necessary food is going to come from). Great blog by the way, keep it up!

A question by jayjaypea

Hey jayjaypea, 

I’ve blogged a little about it in the past. The basic line is that China and and rich countries in the Middle East, like the UAE, have purchased tens of thousands of acres of prime lands in Africa. The rumor is that these countries want to own and manage their own agricultural supplies. And these countries are blamed for bribing local officials to kick off existing families and villages. 

Analysis and evidence are very thin for these claims, and I’ve backed off posting about it over the past couple years. And now, serendipitously, a new book is out debunking this myth. I’ve asked for a review copy and will post a mini-review if they send me one. 

The great African land grab? Agricultural investments and the global food systemby IIED’s Lorenzo Cotula in partnership with Zed Books and Centre of African Studies:

When:Monday 15 July, 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Where:  Brunei Suite, SOAS
Register:  Please register online at

About the book

Lorenzo Cotula’s book aims to debunk many of the myths surrounding land acquisitions in Africa and analyse their internal implications for African stakeholders and the external consequences for global food security.

Over the past few years, large-scale land acquisitions in Africa have stoked controversy, making headlines in media reports across the world. Land that only a short time ago seemed of little outside interest is now a commodity in high demand. Private-sector expectations of higher world food prices and government concerns about longer-term national food and energy security have both made land a more attractive asset.

Dubbed ‘land grabs’ in the media, large-scale land acquisitions have become one of the most talked about and contentious topics amongst those studying, working in or writing about Africa. Some commentators have welcomed this trend as a bearer of new livelihood opportunities. Others have countered by pointing to negative social impacts, including loss of local land rights, threats to local food security and the risk that large-scale investments may marginalize family farming.


Kate Wilson
Publications & Marketing Manager
International Institute for Environment and Development
80-86 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1x 8NH Follow us on twitter

Buy it here.



Why women matter: The gender dimension of climate change adaptation policies

Four of the National Missions under India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change focus on climate change adaptation in the areas of agriculture, water resources, forests and the Himalayan eco-system. Successful adaptation to climate change, however, requires recognition of poor women as critical partners in both driving and delivering solutions because women often constitute a majority of the work force in these sectors.

This pilot research documented some of the gender-differentiated climate change impacts and adaptation interventions. It also examined scientific evidence and women’s perceptions on how key climate parameters like rainfall, temperature and wind patterns are changing and how this is affecting their agriculture-related livelihoods. The research suggests specific gender-responsive policy and practice recommendations for the implementation of the four adaptation-focused National Missions.

Early monsoons in India claim over 130 lives. More rain expected over the next two months. 

Climate adaptation planning ‘could have prevented’ Uttarakhand deaths

India’s vulnerability to extreme weather was exposed this week when floods killed at least 130 people with thousands reported missing.

The monsoon arrived early in the northern state of Uttarakhand, bringing with it 375% more rain than in previous years.

The sheer weight of water that hit an area known as India’s ‘holy land’ is hard to overstate. It suffered 60 hours of continuous and heavy rains coupled with cloudbursts between Friday 14 June to Monday 17 June 2013.

This resulted in increasing water level and floods in the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers, which the NGO ActionAid say was what triggered the massive devastation of infrastructure and loss of lives.

But along with thousands of people and their livestock, poor planning and coordination at state and national level has been savagely exposed, raising serious questions over India’s climate adaptation strategy.

Survivors of India floods recount horror - Video

Possibly (uncorroborated) the worst floods in this region has seen. Video shows tall buildings and also cars being sucked into fast, flooded rivers.  Apparently - and unfortunately - there are two months left of heavy rains. Expect more destruction. 

A Day in India. Do not make the mistake of watching while hungry - I did that for you…

Coffee farmers struggle to adjust to climate change

Farmers are slow to adjust to increased weather fluctuations. Adapting harvest and planting is an expensive option.

One of the biggest problems facing coffee farmers in India and elsewhere is climate change.

Fluctuations in the weather have always happened, but they come more frequently now and are often more extreme, farmers say.

Like many tropical crops, coffee needs predictable dry and wet seasons and cannot tolerate extreme temperature fluctuations.

“Climate change is hitting us hard,” said Jacob Mammen, managing director of India’s Badra Estates.

Three times in recent years, Badra has lost a third of its crop because of rains at the wrong times. Some rains come too soon, causing trees to blossom early; others come as the trees bloom or are ready to be harvested, destroying valuable blossoms or dropping ripe coffee cherries; still others ruin coffee left to dry on outdoor patios.

To protect coffee from the latter fate, nearby Balanoor Plantations spent more than $20,000 for a large cylindrical drying drum last year.

Ill-timed rains used to be rare, coming maybe once a decade. So did unusually long and hot dry spells, which now come regularly.

Seattle Times