From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Tropical cyclones
Mains level : Frequent landfalls of tropical cyclones in India
Cyclone Tauktae (pronounced Tau-Te), classified as a very severe cyclonic storm (VSCS) and developed in the Arabian Sea, is wreaking havoc all across the Indian Coast.
Don’t you think?
In recent years, strong cyclones have been developing in the Arabian Sea more frequently than earlier.
- Tauktae is a currently active and strengthening tropical cyclone threatening the state of Gujarat in India and impacting the states Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra.
- It is the fourth cyclone in consecutive years to have developed in the Arabian Sea, that too in the pre-monsoon period (April to June).
- All these cyclones since 2018 have been categorised as either ‘Severe Cyclone’ or above.
- Once Tauktae makes its landfall, three of these will have hit either the Gujarat or Maharashtra coast.
- After Cyclone Mekanu in 2018, which struck Oman, Cyclone Vayu in 2019 struck Gujarat, followed by Cyclone Nisarga in 2020 that struck Maharashtra.
What is aiding such rapid intensification?
- Any tropical cyclone requires energy to stay alive.
- This energy is typically obtained from the warm water and humid air over the tropical ocean.
- Currently, seawater up to depths of 50 metres has been very warm, supplying ample energy to enable the intensification of Cyclone Tauktae.
- The more the heat released through condensation of water vapour, the steeper the drop in pressure.
- A low-pressure system undergoes multiple stages of intensification to form cyclones.
Not a rare phenomenon
- Typically, tropical cyclones in the North Indian Ocean region (the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) develop during the pre-monsoon and post-monsoon (October to December) periods.
- May-June and October-November are known to produce cyclones of severe intensity that affect the Indian coasts.
Is the Arabian Sea becoming cyclone-friendly?
- Annually, five cyclones on average form in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea combined.
- Of these, four developments in the Bay of Bengal, which is warmer than the Arabian Sea.
- In the Arabian Sea, cyclones typically develop over the Lakshadweep area and largely traverse westwards, or away from India’s west coast.
- However, in recent years, meteorologists have observed that the Arabian Sea, too, has been warming. This is a phenomenon associated with global warming.
Back2Basics: Tropical Cyclone
- A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure centre, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rains.
- Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names, including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, or simply cyclone.
- A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and the northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.
- In the south Pacific or the Indian Ocean, comparable storms are referred to simply as “tropical cyclones” or “severe cyclonic storms”.