Steady Drop in Seasonal Rain in India: Stanford Study

Jun 30th, 2014 | By | Category: India, Rainfall

A recent study by the climate scientists from Stanford University in the Nature Climate Change Journal, claims that difficult times are ahead for Indians with increasing risk of drought and floods. The study has analysed precipitation data of India from 1951 to 2011.

After reading the rainfall pattern of the last 16 years, the scientists have come to the conclusion that there has been a consistent drop in the average seasonal rainfall in India during the summer monsoon months of July-August, which is the peak of rainfall in the entire country leading to good agricultural produce.
The study warns of extreme weather patterns in future and has found a significant decreasing trend in the mean rainfall during the summer monsoon months.

However, in contrast, there has been an increase in the daily rainfall variability during July-August by five per cent, says the study.They evaluated how the characteristics of wet spells, with days of heavy rain, and dry spells have changed between two 30-year periods, 1951 to 1980 and 1981 to 2011. The rainfall has declined in the latter periods and fluctuations have become more frequent.

The intensity of rainfall during wet spells is significantly higher during 1981-2011 than 1951-1980. The dry spells, on the other hand, have become 27 per cent more frequent in the 1981-2011 period. The paper also suggests that this has affected a lot of farmers over the years and will keep on doing so in the future.
“The South Asian summer monsoon directly affects the lives of more than 1/6th of the world’s population.

There is substantial variability within the monsoon season, including fluctuations between periods of heavy rainfall (wet spells) and low rainfall (dry spells). These fluctuations can cause extreme wet and dry regional conditions that adversely impact agricultural yields, water resources, infrastructure and human systems,” says the study.

They measured precipitation and atmospheric conditions during the period by using a new statistical method that accounts for spatial and temporal relationships between rainfall levels, temperature, and other geophysical phenomena. These parameters have been ignored in previous statistical tools.

Experts from India also suggested the same fluctuation in temperature. Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator for South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) said, “After entering the millennium, we have had four drought-induced years; 2002, 2004, 2009 and 2012, while the whole of the 90s saw only two such. However, pointing out an exact reason for less rainfall is difficult as climate scientists have been unable to discover the exact reasons for a good monsoon.”

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