Thirsty Future: India’s Looming Battle with Drought and Floods

  • The frequency and spatial extent of droughts over India have increased significantly during 1951–2015. An increase in drought severity is observed mainly over the central parts of India, including parts of Indo-Gangetic Plains. These changes are consistent with the observed decline in the mean summer monsoon rainfall.
  • Increased frequency of localized heavy rainfall on sub-daily and daily timescales has enhanced flood risk over India. Increased frequency and impacts of floods are also on the rise in urban areas.
  • Climate model projections indicate an increase in frequency, spatial extent and severity of droughts over India during the twenty-first century, while flood propensity is projected to increase over the major Himalayan River basins (e.g. Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra).

In recent years, India has been facing more droughts and floods. This means there are longer periods without enough rain and also times when there’s too much rain, causing floods. These changes are affecting the whole country and are very important for all of us to understand.

Why are Droughts and Floods Happening More Often?

Droughts happen when it doesn’t rain enough for a long time. This can last for months and affect large areas. Floods, on the other hand, happen when there’s too much rain in a short time, especially in smaller areas​​. Since 1950, there’s been a big increase in both heavy rainfalls and long dry periods in India, particularly in the central parts and the south​​.

How Do These Changes Affect Us?

Droughts can make it hard for farmers to grow crops, leading to less food. They can also lead to water shortages, affecting everyone’s daily life. Floods can destroy homes and farms, and make it difficult for people to get around. In big cities like Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata, floods have become more common and severe because of changes in how the land is used, like more buildings and less open land​​.

What’s Causing These Changes?

Scientists think these changes are partly because of climate change. This means that our planet is getting warmer, and this affects the weather. Also, things like El Niño, a weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean, can make droughts happen more often in India.

What Will Happen in the Future?

Experts believe that droughts and floods will probably happen more often in the future. Even though it might rain more on average, the way the rain comes will change. There will be times when it rains a lot, and times when it’s very dry​​.

What Can We Do About It?

Everyone can help in small ways. We can use water wisely and not waste it. Governments and organizations are working to plan better for droughts and floods, like storing more water for dry times and making sure cities can handle heavy rains without flooding.

It’s important to understand these changes in the weather, so we can all be prepared and make our communities safer and stronger. Together, we can make a difference!

Credits: Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region: A Report of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Government of India

The insightful report on the impact of climate change on drought and flood trends in India is a collaborative effort by several esteemed contributors and institutions. Key contributors to this report include:

  1. Vimal Mishra from the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, Palaj, Gandhinagar, India.
  2. M. Rajeevan, representing the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Government of India, New Delhi, India.
  3. Dev Niyogi of Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, and the University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA.
  4. Milind Mujumdar from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM-MoES), Pune, India​​.

These contributors and their respective institutions have played a pivotal role in conducting this comprehensive study, which provides valuable insights into the changing patterns of droughts and floods in India and their potential impacts in the future. Their expertise and collaborative efforts have contributed significantly to our understanding of how climate change is reshaping India’s hydroclimatic landscape.

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