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| Last Updated:13/01/2020

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Snow season shrinking by 11 days/decade: Study

SHIMLA: While tourist places like Manali and Dalhousie have witnessed early snowfall this year resulting into tourism boom, Shimla is still awaiting season's first snowfall. Global warminghas not only resulted in rise in temperature, but has also affected snow and rain pattern in the region. Temperatures in the north-western Himalayan region have risen by about 1.6°C in the last century.

While pointing towards indicators of climate change in the region, a study by the state environment science and technology department has revealed that rate of warming in Shimla was higher during 1991-2002 as compared to earlier decades. Decreasing trend in seasonal snowfall in Shimla is very conspicuous since 1990. It was lowest in 2009. The study also revealed that about 17% decrease in rainfall in Shimla was observed from 1996 onwards.

Meanwhile, weather record of past 40 years reveals that maximum temperature during most years on Christmas day ranged between 10°C and 12°C.

Officials from weather department said Shimla's harsh winter, which normally commenced in November and ended in March, has declined after the mid-1980s. "The snowfall pattern has undergone a drastic change after 1991 with snowing days shrinking at the rate of 11 days per decade," they added.

According to G C Kuniyal, senior scientist at the GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Himachal unit at Mohal, "In Kullu valley alone it has become warmer on an average of 0.9°C from 1965 to 1998. In 1965, the apple belt was found at a height of 1000m above sea level. Now, it's at 2000m above sea level."

"Global warming has changed the weather cycle," he said, adding that rise in temperature in the Himalayan region was not only affecting the crop pattern but also leading to unusual weather conditions.

In the last 15 years, it is for the first time this year that Rohtang and other areas of the state have received snowfall in the first week of November, thus, indicating climate change in the north-western Himalayas. Earlier this year, heavy monsoon showers had wreaked havoc in the state, especially in Kinnaur district where massive destruction was caused due to flash floods and landslides.

Once known for its cool climes, 
Himachal Pradesh is witnessing the ill effects of global warming as in last four decades average maximum temperature has increased by 5.2°C. A study by the department of economics and statistics in June last year showed that the highest temperature registered in 1971-72 was 28.5°C, which increased to 33.7°C in 2010-11. Minimum temperature remained almost static. In 1971-72 it was registered at 5.6°C, which now was at 5.8°C.

"The state had 31,757.71 sq km area under snow cover. Change in rain and snow cycle is due to greenhouse gases. Other major source emitting carbon dioxide had been vehicles, which were only 9,116 four decades ago and now there are about 1,67,300," the report stated.

The Times of India (11-11-2013)