Welcome to “What’s Up With Water” – your need-to-know news of the world’s water from Circle of Blue. I’m Eileen Wray-McCann.
India intends to tap the power of flowing water to meet its energy needs as the country transitions away from fossil fuels. It’s looking to building new hydropower dams in remote valleys, although the geologically unstable terrain poses environmental risks. Two weeks ago, the Indian government approved its largest ever hydropower project. According to Bloomberg, the Dibang project will be located in India’s mountainous northeastern region near the Chinese border. It’s budgeted at about $4 billion and will be developed over nine years by the state-run hydropower company NHPC. Dibang is one of several hydropower projects that the Indian government has planned for the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Critics say that this region is problematic. The steep slopes are prone to landslides during heavy rains. The area is also home to dense forests that are rich in biodiversity, and those trees would need to be cleared to build the dams. For that reason, India’s forest ministry recently denied a permit for the Etalin hydropower project, an even larger development planned for the area.
Cyclone Freddy has swirled around the southern Indian Ocean for more than a month and is now one of the longest-lived tropical storms on record. Freddy hit Mozambique this weekend – that’s the second time the storm made landfall in the country. The first time was in February, when the storm displaced more than 11,000 people. Freddy is unusual in many ways. It is one of the strongest storms to be measured in the Indian Ocean and it has experienced seven periods of strengthening. Yale Climate Connections reports that it is one of only five Category 5 storms recorded in February. A warming climate is fueling stronger, wetter tropical storms and causing them to strengthen more quickly.
Halfway across the globe, a different weather pattern is in a transition period. The latest measurements of ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific indicate that the surface waters have warmed to the point that La Niña conditions are no longer present. For three years below average temperatures associated with La Niña prevailed. That pattern contributed to severe droughts in the Horn of Africa and Argentina. The Pacific Ocean is now in a neutral phase, but a warmer El Niño pattern could emerge by the fall. El Niño is associated with warmer winters in southern Asia, drier weather in Australia and Central America, and wetter conditions in the Gulf Coast.
And that’s What’s Up With Water from Circle of Blue, where water speaks. You’ll find more news and analysis – and a chance to support our work – at circleofblue.org
. This is Eileen Wray-McCann – thanks for being here.