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Increase in number of hot days in summer will affect rubber
Kottayam, June 2015

A study conducted by Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) has found out that occurrence of extreme temperature events are becoming more frequent in recent years in Kottayam, the major rubber growing area in Kerala. An analysis of the data of daily maximum and minimum temperatures from 1970 to 2010, conducted by the Climate Change and Ecosystem Studies Division of RRII showed clear indications of the warming trend which can be attributed to the threat of changing climate in this region.

The production of latex in rubber trees is closely related to the atmospheric temperature. The productivity of the crop decreases as the atmospheric temperature goes up beyond a threshold level. Earlier studies clearly indicated that the increase in atmospheric temperature would adversely affect the rubber production in the traditional rubber growing regions in India. Thus the impact of changing climate in this region may seriously affect rubber cultivation, if the present warming trend continues. Since the socio-economic sustainability of the region is highly dependent on rubber cultivation, proper precautions and climate resilient measures may be adopted by the farmers to overcome the adverse effects of temperature stress in rubber cultivation under the changing scenario of climate in this region.

The diurnal temperature range (difference between monthly mean maximum and minimum temperatures) increased from 7.80C during 1970s to 9.20C in recent years. Frequency of occurrence of warming days (with temperature above 320C) also increased at a rate of 0.56% per year. The number of days with minimum temperature decreased significantly, indicating the warming nights are becoming more in Kottayam during recent years. The monthly highest temperature showed an increase of 0.0380C per year during 1970 to 2010. Persistence of high temperature consecutively for six days or more represents a warm spell. The number of such warm spells increased and the gaps between warm spells became shorter in recent years. The frequent occurrence of such high temperature events is a clear indication of changing climate leading to the warming of this region. If such events persist, it may cause serious impacts on the agricultural ecology of the region. The impacts of such phenomenon in the production and productivity of agricultural crops in South East Asian and European countries have already been reported. Extreme temperature events in the form of heat wave and cold wave in the northern states of India impacts severely on crop production and quality of grains leading to serious socio-economic consequences.

The results of the study by RRII were presented in the recent Kerala Environment Congress-2015 held at Kottayam during May 2015.

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