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India To Set Up Eight Observatories To Monitor Climate Change

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India announced Monday that it will open eight long-term observatories across the islands, deserts, and the Himalayas to monitor the effects of climate change.

Environment minister Prakash Javadekar revealed the plan at COP21 – the United Nations climate change conference currently held in Paris, France – saying the ecological observatories will help the country better understand climate change impact among its natural biodiversity.

“This new initiative which is science-based is very important,” the minister said, citing the country’s 10 coastal states, 10 Himalayan states, 10 forest-filled states, and 1,300 islands.

Six Indian territories prone to climate changes – including the western and eastern Himalayas, central Indian forest, and northwestern arid zone – had been identified for the establishment of the facilities under the Indian Long Term Ecological Observatories (I-LTEO), which would analyze the well-being of eight habitats and research on long-term changes brought by climate change.

According to a government report, the observatories will offer insight into a wide range of climate change impacts, including on freshwater lakes found in the Himalayas, bird populations, marine ecology, and animal migration.

“The research would help us understand the impact of climate change better,” Indian environment secretary Ashok Lavasa said.

India was deemed particularly vulnerable to climate change, with large parts of its citizens living close to risky areas and lacking ways to implement climate change adaptation and mitigation. Unlike Europe or the United States, too, it had not yet created a micro-level climate map that could help the country manage or survive an impending related crisis.

By the end of this century, one-third of the vegetation of India – home to around seven percent of global biodiversity – is projected to drastically change, with a number of pathogens such as dengue, chikungunya, and malaria finding better, more conducive conditions throughout the year in many regions.

While remaining largely undiscovered, too, Indian biodiversity faces the threat of being lost due to steadily growing human populations. Another 400 million individuals will likely fortify the country’s 1.21 billion force in the next 20 years.

India is running various observatories at present, namely in the Western Ghats and in Goa’s western coastal region. The long-term scientific endeavor will monitor natural landscapes and institute a multi-disciplinary approach.

Photo: Vinoth Chandar | Flickr

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