Changing Climate

Three charts that show how India might lose 18% of its monsoons

New study shows large-scale deforestation especially in high-latitude countries like Canada and Russia could impact rain in India.

Rising temperatures have been a long-established and obvious result of local deforestation in a tropical country like India. But the country also faces a huge threat from the impact of global deforestation. According to the latest research out of the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, large-scale loss of trees in boreal forests around the world will lead to a monsoon weaker by 12% in South Asia. India can lose up to 18% of its present monsoon rain.

Boreal forests are high-latitude forests along the edge of the southern Arctic in Russia, the Scandinavian countries, Canada and Alaska. These forests cover about 12 million square kilometres and have one-third of the world’s plant matter. Global forest monitoring network, Forest Watch, released a report last year that showed Canada leading the world in the amount of virgin forest destroyed since 2000, followed closely by Russia.

A change in land use from forests to crop land is accompanied by greater carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. What also changes is the amount of light that the land emits, a phenomenon called albedo. These chemical and physical shifts combine to affect atmospheric warming.

Impact of Deforestation

Taking these factors into account, researchers Govindasamy Bala, N. Devaraju and Angshuman Modak from IISc's Divecha Center for Climate Change built three-dimensional climate models to gauge the impact of deforestation on rainfall around the world. They ran experiments in which they simulated removing forests globally and then in the boreal, temperate and tropical belts respectively. They found that boreal deforestation results in the largest flux in temperature. These changes in temperature pushed monsoon-bearing atmospheric circulation southward, resulting in less rainfall across the northern hemisphere – in East and South Asia, North America and North Africa.


Looking specifically at the impact on India, the researchers found that local deforestation would lead to the largest increase In surface temperatures across the country.


However, the simulations showed that deforestation in boreal and temperate forests had a bigger impact on rainfall in general and on the Indian monsoon in particular than local land use changes. 



India already shudders at the thought of a single year with a bad monsoon, such as an El Nino year, with farmers and economists spending months praying for the rains and calculating losses.



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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.