South Asia: Water surpluses forecast in central India, deficits in the south (August 22, 2016)

The Big Picture
The 12-month map (below) shows the presence of water surpluses in the forecast for central India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Water deficits are forecast for Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha, India; as well as for western Afghanistan and southern Pakistan.

About 330 million people in India have been affected by drought across 10 states, according the government, and drought continues to affect southern India. Karnataka's cabinet has banned the use of water for agricultural purposes in the southern and coastal districtsstopped the release of water for anything other than drinking, and will begin cloud seeding. Farmers in Tamil Nadu are urging the state government to declare the state "drought-hit."

With drought giving way to floods in many parts of South Asia, at least 300 people have died, 3 million have been displaced, and 100,000 animals have drowned as of the end of July, including 21 rare and endangered one-horned rhinoceros. The Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Indus Rivers swelled to produce extensive flooding in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and India. In India flooding and landslides have affected Assam and Bihar the most, but also Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. As floodwaters recede in Assam health experts fear a resurgence of Japanese Encephalitis; over 295 cases have been reported with 66 casualties.

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month composites (below) show the evolving conditions. Surpluses are forecast to persist from August through October – though generally of lesser extent and severity than recently - from Madhya Pradesh north to Delhi, India; throughout Bangladesh; and in Indian states east of Bangladesh. Water deficits are forecast for Gujarat, Odisha, southern India, Himachal Pradesh, and southern Pakistan. In August exceptional deficits (greater than 40 years) are forecast in Odisha. Deficits are also forecast for western Afghanistan with both deficits and surpluses on the Helmand River. Exceptional surpluses are forecast along the northern Indus through Punjab, Pakistan in August and September.

From November through January aforementioned surpluses in India will continue to diminish, though a pocket will persist near Delhi. Moderate (5 to 10 years) surpluses will persist in Bangladesh and southern Manipur, India. Deficits in Gujarat are expected to become exceptional in December and to persist and spread from December on. Moderate deficits will emerge in Assam and will spread in India’s northwestern states including Thar Desert regions. Deficits will emerge in Sri Lanka in December and are forecast to persist through April.

The February through April forecast indicates widespread abnormal (3 to 5 years) to moderate deficits covering much of India with severe deficits in Gujarat.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)


Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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