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Proxies Help Himalayan Climate Predictions
|by V. K. Joshi (Bijji)|
Wonder how many times a friend has been your proxy in the classroom in your absence! We had a class of 75 students in graduation. Some of us used to bunk and ask a friend to say ‘Yes Sir’ when our name is called during the attendance. It worked till we were caught. A Dean introduced a system of numbered tokens to be collected at the entrance of the class and dropped in a box-it was later checked to verify the attendance. But it was easy- a friend would collect his and our tokens together…!
In the mountainous terrain cultivation is a challenge. The terraced fields are too small to produce large quantities of grains and over and above, the climate is hostile. Excess or lack of rains mars the agricultural produce. This issue is compounded as merely 10% of agricultural land in the hills is under irrigation, the rest is only rain fed. In other words, land holders of nearly 90% lands are at the mercy of rain Gods. A good rain brings cheers, an excess or no rain brings tears for them. Thus if the mood of the weather could be gauged (predicted), the farmers could be forewarned and their efforts could be saved. For example, this year’s unprecedented rains in Uttarakhand, apart from bringing disaster in terms of landslides and floods also ruined huge tracts of agricultural fields. The entire economy of the area has been jeopardised.
The advent of computers has helped such studies a lot as, it saves lot of time in statistical matching of the rings. The majestic conifers, particularly Cedars of Kumaon are considered ideal for the purpose of tree ring analysis and working out the past climates. It is believed that Cedars were originally planted near sacred groves and temples. For example, Jageshwar, once considered to be the centre of Lakulish Shaivism (Lakulish is 28th Avataar of Lord Shiva) is situated in a dense Cedar forest. These Cedars, the old guards of Jageshwar are perhaps one of the best to work out the climate of the period between 9th and 13th Century-that is the period in which the group of temples at Jageshwar were constructed. It is also believed that Lord Lakulish (Lord Shiva with a wooden stick) originated in Gujarat and travelled to Jageshwar. People say that Gujaratis settled in Jageshwar area which according to Skandpuran is amidst ‘Daruk van’ and has the eighth Jyotirling of Lord Shiva. Daruk means Cedar. This takes the Cedars of Jageshwar to mythological period.
As evident from the caption of this story, tree ring analysis and prediction is a proxy for other records that are not available in an area. Such records need to be crossed checked by comparison with available, authentic records nearby. In case of Jageshwar and Gangolihat fortunately, there is a weather station functioning at Mukteshwar in Nainital district, since 1897.
Tree rings indicated that the 1780s, 1890s, early 1920s and late 1960s to early 1970s were periods of low precipitation. While 1730s, 1760s, 1820s, 1860s, 1910s and 1980s were periods of abundant rainfall, claim these researchers. Refining their research R.R. Yadav and his co-researchers found that 1910-1918, 1978-1988 were periods of abundant rainfall in 20th century and 1920-1924, 1964-1974, 1993-2001 were the periods of dry phases.
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12/28/2013 07:04 AM
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