Temperature projections for Kerala suggest that most locations may see a warming of 0.5°C in the near future (2020-2040) and an increase between 1°C and 1.5°C by mid-century (2040-2060), depending on emissions trajectories. These projections, unveiled during a two-day consultation/workshop held here, accurately captured seasonal cycles.

These are based on a temperature data downscaling project for the Kerala region carried out by climate risk experts from the Woodwell Climate Research Centre in collaboration with GeoHazards International (GHI), GeoHazards Society, and the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA). The findings were presented to climate scientists and technical experts from government agencies and academic institutions during the workshop held here on Monday and Tuesday.

Ensemble of 17 models

The maximum temperature, using CMIP6 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project), was statistically downscaled based on an ensemble of 17 models with varying resolutions from 75 degrees to 2 degrees. The objective of CMIP is to better understand past, present and future climate changes arising from natural, unforced variability or in response to changes in radiative forcing in a multi-model context. The CMIP6 envisages ‘runs’ from around 100 distinct climate models.  

A comparison has been done with observational data and projections in both the SSP245 and SSP585 scenarios. SSP refers to Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, a new set of climate scenarios developed with respect to the sixth IPCC report. SSP245 represents a medium pathway of future greenhouse gas emissions, while SSP585 is an update of the CMIP5’s RCP8.5 (Representative Concentration Pathway), or the highest baseline emissions scenario, combined with socioeconomic reasons.  

Heat action plan

In her opening remarks at the workshop, Tinku Biswal, Principal Secretary, Revenue, Kerala, appreciated the efforts of the GHI and KSDMA and said she expected the elite group of participants to use the data productively. Hari Kumar, Regional Coordinator (South Asia), and Mary Antoinette, Project Manager, GHI, gave their inputs on the projections and urged the scientific community to use the data made available to refine the Heat Action Plan for the State. The second day of the workshop focussed on inputs for the revision and updating of the Heat Action Plan for Kerala, supported by the World Resources Institute.