From science to policy—Toward an approach linking extreme rainfall events to climate resilience and policy development: A case study from Kerala, India

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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


The western slopes of the southern Western Ghats (i.e., Kerala State, India) experienced unprecedented and widespread extreme rainfall events (EREs) during the Indian summer monsoon season of the years 2018 and 2019, causing extensive flooding (in the lowlands and midlands) and numerous landslides (in the highlands) across the region. In a warming climate, the occurrence of such EREs, steered by the atmospheric conditions, is generally expected. While there were a lot of speculations, theories, and scientific perspectives explaining the reasons for the occurrence of these phenomena, a concrete and scientific validation was still lacking. The context warranted a comprehensive multidisciplinary investigation with special emphasis on hydrology, atmosphere, and anthropogenic activities. This chapter summarizes the multidisciplinary investigations of various factors ranging from global climate change to local anthropogenic activities to ascertain the causes and responses to the floods and landslides in the aftermath of heavy rainfall in August 2018 and August 2019 in the Kerala State, India. The information was synthesized after the analysis of primary and secondary data, and simulation-based results. This chapter initially describes a detailed analysis, and assessment of the reasons for the occurrence of such EREs and their major causative factors. In the subsequent sections, reviews of regional impact of such EREs leading to floods and landslides are described. Recommendations to frame appropriate policy responses are formulated based on the survey of previous literature and ancillary information, observations during the field visits, interaction/discussion with scientific experts, administrators at different levels, and community. This study aims at assisting policy makers to formulate appropriate policies for mitigating the negative impact of devastating natural hazards such as floods and landslides associated with extreme hydro-metrological events in the future.

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Developments in Environmental Science