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Climate change affecting Snowfall in Himalayas- Red Flag for Kharif 2024 - By Dr. B K Singh & Purnima Nair


Fig. 1: Map Indicating Statewise Storage Position (Source: CWC)

Over the past five years, climate change has altered ground water availability, affecting the agricultural sector in India. Melting of glaciers in the Himalayan region and reduced snowfall has been witnessed.

In Kharif season,(April to September) rainfall , plays a vital role in India's agricultural calendar and the success of Kharif crops depends heavily on monsoon. In absence of rainfall, ground water plays a major role in irrigation.

The impact of climate change, coupled with the complex and variable nature of El Nino events, has led to a concerning pattern of reduced snowfall, affecting water availability for agriculture.

Last monsoon was 8% deficient due to impact of El Nino. Western disturbances this year has been far and few. Low snowfall could spell serious shortage in ground water availability.

As of January 11, 2024, data from the Reservoir Storage bulletin reveals that the total live storage of the country stands at 145.342 BCM, significantly below the estimated 257.812 BCM. Weak western disturbances have resulted in the absence of heavy snowfall and rains in the Himalayan regions, further exacerbating the situation.

The current scenario, with limited snowfall in the Himalayas, indicates that glaciers may run out, resulting in insufficient water availability for the rivers, dams, and reservoirs. This, in turn, poses a direct threat to the cultivation of Kharif crops, particularly in states heavily dependent on ground water sources. States such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha are particularly vulnerable to the impact of reduced ground water availability. The cultivation of essential crops like paddy, jute, sugarcane, maize, pulses etc. will be at risk, potentially leading to significant economic losses for farmers and the economy.

Fig. 2: Region Wise Storage Position (Source: CWC)

This above graph delves into the concerning decrease in water storage observed in the southern region. The data presented in Figure 2 highlights the stark contrast between the water storage levels in the last and current years. The data reveals a substantial reduction from 37.01 billion cubic metres (BCM) in the previous year to 20.59 BCM in the current year. This drastic decline raises alarms about the potential implications on water availability, agriculture, and overall sustainability in the region.

Farmers are advised to regularly monitor the weather patterns of their village via Fasal Salah App and take timely actions suiting to their crops. Farmers are also advised to be ready to diversify crops and adopt resilient varieties that require less water can help buffer against the uncertainties in water availability.


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