NE states witness significant drop in rainfall due to climate change


NEW DELHI: Despite heavy periodic downpour, North Eastern states including Meghalaya have received inadequate rainfall this season all because of climate change.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the eastern and north-eastern regions have together received 31 per cent less rainfall than normal in this south-west monsoon (SWM) season as on July 25, 2018.
“If the scenario does not improve anytime soon, this could be the worst monsoon the region has seen in the past 13 years,” the report stated.
A state wide analysis showed that Meghalaya, ‘the abode of clouds’, is reeling under 45 per cent deficit rainfall this season (as on July 29). The East Khasi Hills district in the state, home to some of the wettest places on planet Earth, has received 20 per cent less rain than normal.
The Ri Bhoi district has fared the worst in the state with a deficit of 56 per cent. Such weather anomalies were rare earlier.
Arunachal Pradesh, which was once dubbed as India’s hydroelectric powerhouse, has received 37 per cent less rainfall than normal with 9 out of 16 districts staring at more than 40 per cent deficit.
The four districts of East Kameng, Tawang, Tirap and Upper Siang have rainfall deficits of 64 per cent, 66 per cent, 68 per cent and 75 per cent respectively.
The Himalayan state through which Brahmaputra enters India might be staring at a water crisis. About 200 of its rivers and streams have dried up mostly due to the diminishing glaciers.
In Assam, the monsoon has left the state with 28 percent less than normal rainfall. Ironically, the state had also experienced extreme rainfall recently which led to floods and loss of lives in 21 districts.
Somehow, many of the districts which experienced floods have also received large deficit rainfall. The flood ravaged districts are – Dhemaji (86 per cent ), Sonitpur (24 per cent), Nalbari (37 per cent), Nagaon (32), Barpeta (22), Kokrajhar (22) and Hailakandi (31).
If climate change is behind all of this, the NE region will be more vulnerable when it comes to its natural resources.
In a research paper published in Current Science journal in 2011, scientists had predicted that climate change will affect agriculture, water availability and forests in North-East India.
According to scientists, the number of drought weeks during monsoon months in Arunachal Pradesh, parts of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur, will increase by 25 per cent in the future.
Looking at rainfall deficit this season, this prediction doesn’t look unlikely.
The Bay of Bengal branch of the monsoon, which brings in all the rainfall to the region, might be weakening over time.
On July 21, a depression, which is an area of low atmospheric pressure that produces rainfall over the region it passes over, was formed over north-west Bay of Bengal.
The depression brought record breaking rains to Odisha and heavy rainfall to Gangetic West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and other adjoining states. Along with that, it also cut off moisture to the entire NE region, reducing the rainfall and increasing temperatures.
The heat wave conditions in Assam were also a result of this development. For a region which is highly dependent upon the monsoon for its rainfall, this is ominous. Prior to the monsoon, Assam, Manipur and Mizoram witnessed floods while Assam also dealt with heat wave conditions in the latter half of July.