IIT Kharagpur Study Predicts River Basin-wise Agricultural Droughts-North India Shows High Vulnerability

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With inputs from Rituparna Chakraborty


  • The study predicts future status climate change-induced agricultural droughts across India.

  • More intense droughts in North, North-East and Central India are expected as compared to South India.

  • About 20 and 50% of the area in India is expected to face extreme and moderate agricultural droughts, respectively, by the end of the 21st century.

Farmers in India’s north, north-east and central regions may have to be more cautious of agricultural droughts in the future – reveals IIT Kharagpur study. The data shows a geographically contrasting change in future drought patterns that indicates more intense agricultural drought in north, north-east, and central India as compared to south India due to changing climate. 

The study conducted by research scholar Mayank Suman from the School of Water Resources and Dr. Rajib Maity, Associate Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT Kharagpur has been published in the Journal of Water and Climate Change. The researchers have identified vulnerable basins, out of a total of 226 sub-basins across India, considering the future agricultural drought. The area under drought is also expected to increase which might lead to about 20 to 50% of mainland India suffering from extreme to moderate agricultural drought conditions respectively, by the end of this century.

Trend of SSMI series for different future periods. The maps show the basin-wise trend of agricultural droughts in entire ‘future’ period upto 2100 and three epochs: E1 (2006-2035), E2 (2036-2070), and E3 (2071-2100) for the worst climate change scenario.

“Sub-basins in Northern India are expected to have a longer time under drought conditions followed by sub-basins in central India. Sub-basins in the Gangetic plain were also observed to exhibit high vulnerability to extreme drought conditions in future,” said Mayank Suman.

The recent studies on meteorological drought suggest more intense and frequent drought events due to changing climate.

“With climate change, air temperature is expected to increase, resulting in a drying tendency in soil moisture and streamflow along with higher and intense precipitation. The prediction of an increase in the area under drought has been made due to these probable changes. Many studies suggest that drought is expected to become more severe and frequent, and the areas under drought are expected to increase with local variation in the future,” remarked Prof. Rajib Maity.

With India’s steep dependence on agriculture and allied economies [18% of GDP, Source: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Govt. of India, 2021], monitoring, assessment, and prediction of agricultural drought are of immense importance.

“With the extreme drought conditions having a possible adverse effect on food production in identified regions, policymakers would find our findings useful for future planning and preparedness in terms of agricultural productivity,” added Prof. Maity.

The researchers predicted the drought status using the wavelet-based drought temporal consequence modelling of meteorological drought with the best performing bias-corrected Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) simulations, selected by Multi-Criteria Decision- Making frameworks. They used the Standardized Soil Moisture Index as the drought characterizing index alongwith most of the existing studies on meteorological droughts are analyzed using the indices, such as Standardized Precipitation Index, Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index, and the Palmer Drought Severity Index.  

About IIT Kharagpur: Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur is a higher educational institute known globally for its graduate output and affordable technology innovations. Set up in 1951 in a detention camp as an Institute of National Importance, the Institute is ranked among the top five in India and has been awarded Institute of Eminence by the Govt. of India in 2019. The key areas of research of IIT Kharagpur are Affordable Healthcare Technologies, Advanced Manufacturing, Advanced Transportation, Precision Agriculture and Food Technology, Cyberphysical Systems, Ecology & Environment, Mining, Water Resources and Architecture. The Institute is engaged in several international and national mission projects and ranks significantly in research output including 50-100 IPR filed annually and about 2000 research publications in top journals and conferences. At present, the Institute has about 750 full-time equivalent faculty members, more than 14000 students and over 70000 Alumni. For more information visit: www.iitkgp.ac.in

Media Contact: Dr. Rajib Maity, Associate Professor, Email: rajib@civil.iitkgp.ac.in, Ph: +91-3222-283442

For more information write to media@iitkgp.ac.in

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By Shreyoshi Ghosh

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