Climate Change

This programme is oriented towards quantifying and mapping the role of India’s forests in regulating monsoonal rain through recycled evapotranspiration, regulation of floods and reduced sedimentation of irrigation dams. The programme also seeks to examine the role of forests and forest restoration in India’s water and carbon security for adaptation to and mitigation of climate change as well as disaster risk reduction.
Clear and Present Danger: Climate Change Hazards in the Himalayas
Biodiversity Collaborative / Biodiversity Collaborative
Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation & Disaster Resilience: Emerging & Future Challenges for India
Biodiversity Collaborative / Biodiversity Collaborative

About Climate Change

Globally, countries have struggled to deal with the impacts of climate change, and India is no exception. Apart from causing extreme weather events and impacting food security, climate change poses significant challenges to our biodiversity endangering the ecosystem services it provides. Climate change impacts are expected to be particularly severe in low-to-middle income nations, and countries like India remain very vulnerable to these impacts. Changes in land-climate interactions will exacerbate biome-shifts and permanent loss of insects, plants, and vertebrates. Global change including climate change is already impacting tropical and sub-tropical forests. A main regulator of water dynamics is vegetation canopy phenology that reflects seasonal timing, duration, and magnitude of leaf area. Climate change, extreme weather events and the abovementioned threats are all known to individually alter canopy phenology. Little, however, is known about how global change drivers and climate variability and change alter ecosystem services in subtropical systems. In particular, it is not known how land surface phenology including growing period in these ecosystems responds to intense rain events in the wet-season and periods of very high temperature in the dry-season, and how these dynamics propagate to drive water fluxes. At large spatial scales and multi-decadal scales, the response of these ecosystems to recent climate variability and trends is also largely unknown. Although the consequences of climate-driven extreme weather events and ecosystem change are clear, little is known about the vulnerability of tropical forests which directly impacts the region’s social and economic well-being and the ecosystems and ecosystem services. Understanding these responses of forests to climate change in a geo-spatial framework for adaptive management of forests and forest restoration will have major implications for climate change vulnerability assessment, mitigation, and adaptation strategies.

A comprehensive review of climate change and biodiversity linkages in revealed gaps that remain (lack of warming experiments and whole ecosystem measurements at plot and catchment scale, integration of future climate with ecophysiological measurements (e.g. transpiration and thermal tolerance in trees) and response of aquatic organisms and ecosystems to climate warming and extreme events. To achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement and the land-related Sustainable Development Goals including land degradation neutrality requires a suite of climate and land policies including impacts of mitigation on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The management of ecological synergies and trade-offs of India’s existing and emerging mitigation projects will be crucial for long-term sustainability of India’s emerging low-carbon economy.

This programme will attempt to map vulnerability of Indian biodiversity and ecosystem services to the changing climate. In doing so, the programme will quantify and map the key risks to biodiversity and ecosystem services from climate change, with a special emphasis on mountain ranges like the Himalayas and the Western Ghats and river ecosystems. It will further assess and map the role of biodiversity and ecosystem functions in disaster risk mitigation, including plans for synergizing India’s emerging low carbon economy and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions with the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. With the execution of policies informed by the findings of this programme, India will emerge as a global leader in climate change mitigation and disaster resilience-based ecosystem management integrated into economic development.