“According to the Drought Early Warning System (DEWS), 36.74 per cent of the area in India was abnormally dry last year and this year its 42 per cent, which is around 6 per cent more than last year”
ABOUT 42 per cent of India is ‘abnormally dry’ which is around 6 per cent more than last year, according to the Drought Early Warning System (DEWS). In the May 28 update of the real time drought watcher, the percentage of abnormally dry area increased to 42.61 per cent from a week before (May 21) when it was 42.18 per cent. The increase is 0.45 per cent from April 28 when it was 42.16 per cent. The situation was little better on February 27 when 41.30 per cent area was abnormally dry.
The dry index has worsened over the last year as 36.74 per cent of the area in India was abnormally dry on May 28, 2018. There is an increase in the area under ‘severely dry’ category from 15.93 per cent a week ago to 16.18 per cent on May 28. Little less than 6 per cent of the area is under ‘exceptionally dry’ category. Some of the worst affected areas are in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The area under exceptionally dry category went up from 0.68 per cent last year to 5.66 per cent this year.
The latest bulletin of the Central Water Commission on May 30 said that live storage of water in 91 reservoirs was 31.65 BCM which is 20 per cent of the capacity. However, the bulletin said that the overall storage situation was better than the same time last year. All eyes are now on the monsoon. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) in its second early forecast has claimed that it will be a normal monsoon but northwest India and northeast India are expected to have less than normal rains.
The Long Period Average (LPA) of 96 is expected for the whole country which is the bottom of the scale (96 to 104). In northwest India, rainfall is expected to be 94 per cent and 91 per cent in the northeast. Rainfall is expected to be 100 per cent in central India and 97 per cent in peninsular India.
‘Asia’s glaciers prevent water shortage during droughts’
GLACIERS become the largest supplier of water to some of Asia’s major river basins during droughts, fulfilling the basic needs of 221 million people when water shortages are at their worst, a study has found. The study, published in journal Nature, has important economic and social implications for a region that is vulnerable to drought. Climate change is causing most of the region’s glaciers to shrink. Hamish Pritchard, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in the UK, said that the melt-water is important for the people living downstream when the rains fail and water shortages are at their worst. According to researchers, each summer, glaciers release 36 cubic kilometres of water -- equivalent to 14 million Olympic swimming pools -- to these rivers. This is enough water to cater to the needs of 221 million people.
The high-mountain region of Asia, known as the Third Pole, including the Himalayas, has 95,000 glaciers in total. About 800 million people are partly dependent on their melt-water. However, this supply is unsustainable because climate change is causing the region’s glaciers to lose 1.6 times more water than they gain each year from new snowfall. Researchers analysed estimates of the glacier contribution with the amount of precipitation in average years and in drought years.
They used climate datasets and hydrological modelling to calculate the volume of glacier water entering and leaving the region’s major river basins. “Even in high-mountain Asia, they are remote and cover quite a small part of the region. It turns out that they are particularly valuable to society as a natural store of water that keeps the rivers flowing through summer, even through long droughts,” Pritchard said. Against a background of increasing drought-related water and food shortages and malnutrition, which have been predicted with high confidence for the coming decades, Pritchard said that Asia’s glaciers will play an increasingly important part in protecting downstream populations from drought-induced spikes in water stress.