Climate Change Threatens Three-Fold Increase in Groundwater Loss in India

Climate Change Threatens Three-Fold Increase in Groundwater Loss in India Pic/EPS
Climate Change Threatens Three-Fold Increase in Groundwater Loss in India Pic/EPS
Climate Change Threatens Three-Fold Increase in Groundwater Loss in India Pic/EPS
Climate Change Threatens Three-Fold Increase in Groundwater Loss in India Pic/EPS

Climate Change Threatens Three-Fold Increase in Groundwater Loss in India

Climate Change Threatens Three-Fold Increase in Groundwater Loss in India. Image/EPS

A Growing Crisis: Groundwater Depletion and Climate Change

A recent study by the University of Michigan has sounded the alarm on the potential for a three-fold increase in groundwater loss in India from 2041 to 2080, compared to current rates. This dire prediction comes despite anticipated increases in rainfall and potential reductions in irrigation practices as groundwater levels continue to decline.

Study’s Focus: Rising Temperatures and Intensified Irrigation

The study, titled “Warming temperatures exacerbate groundwater depletion rates in India,” and published in the journal Science Advances, delves into the impact of rising temperatures on Indian farmers’ intensified use of groundwater for irrigation. This trend poses a significant threat to India’s food and water security, affecting more than one-third of its massive population of 1.4 billion people and global food supplies.

A Multi-Dimensional Crisis: Climate Change, Agriculture, and Water Resources

The study’s findings highlight a multi-dimensional crisis at the intersection of climate change, agriculture, and water resources. The diminishing water availability due to groundwater depletion and climate change is expected to reduce crop yields and production, which challenges India’s food security. This has broader implications for global food security, considering India is home to 18% of the world’s population and is the second-largest producer of essential cereal grains like rice and wheat.

Linking Rising Temperatures and Crop Water Stress

The research team analyzed groundwater data from thousands of wells, employing remote-sensing data for crop water stress and weather data, including rainfall and temperature, spanning from 2004 to 2013 in India. Their statistical analysis uncovered a direct connection between increasing temperatures and heightened crop water stress.

Impact of Warming Temperatures on Crop Water Stress

Warmer temperatures directly contribute to crop water stress during both the monsoon and winter seasons. Higher temperatures result in increased water loss from crops due to a process known as evapotranspiration, which involves the loss of water from the soil through evaporation and plant transpiration. Even with a mere 1°C temperature increase, the study predicts a 5.9% rise in crop water stress during the monsoon season and a 3.5% increase during the winter season. The monsoon season, in particular, is vulnerable due to elevated temperatures and heightened radiative effects, leading to increased potential evapotranspiration.

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