South Asia: Intense water deficits forecast across central India

26 November 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast through July 2019 indicates exceptional water deficits in Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh, India, as well as southeastern Pakistan. Severe to extreme deficits are forecast for India’s Far Northeast. Moderate deficits are expected in Afghanistan and large pockets of southern Pakistan.

Surpluses ranging from severe to exceptional are forecast for Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Mizoram, India. Generally less intense surpluses are forecast for Nepal and Bangladesh. Surpluses are also expected along the Indus River in northern Pakistan.

FORECAST BREAKDOWN
The 3-month composites (below) show the evolving conditions in greater detail.

Widespread exceptional deficits that have dominated Afghanistan in recent months will moderate overall through January, though deficits will remain more intense northeast of Kabul and along the Harirud River in the west. Moderate deficits are forecast for southern Pakistan but may be more intense around Karachi and east of Hyderabad. Surpluses are forecast in northeastern Pakistan along the Indus River, and conditions of both surplus and deficit along parts of the Sutlej River.

In India, deficits will increase and intensify, blanketing a vast extent across the country’s girth, and will include exceptional deficits throughout Gujarat in the west and severe to exceptional deficits from Madhya Pradesh through Karnataka. Deficits are also expected in Punjab, Rajasthan, and Haryana, along with conditions of both deficit and surplus as transition occur. Moderate to severe deficits are forecast for Bihar, while India’s Far Northeast will see some extreme deficit conditions. Exceptional surpluses are expected in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh in the north, Mizoram in the east near Bangladesh, and in neighboring Chittagong Division, Bangladesh. Some surpluses are forecast for northern Sri Lanka and pockets of Nepal and Bangladesh.

From February through April, deficits in India are expected to moderate overall and some regions in the country’s eastern third will normalize. However, intense deficits will persist throughout Gujarat and in Madhya Pradesh and along the Tungabhadra River through Karnataka. Surpluses are expected to re-emerge in the western Gangetic Plain, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Some generally moderate deficits are forecast for western Afghanistan and southwestern Pakistan but deficits will be more intense near Karachi.

The forecast for the final months – May through July – indicates primarily moderate deficits in India and pockets throughout the region. Some surpluses are expected in Jammu and Kashmir, northern Pakistan, along the Gandaki River in central Nepal, and pockets of Tami Nadu, India.

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

IMPACTS
Three of the five hottest Septembers on record in India have occurred in the last four years - 2015, 2017, and 2018. Though this September’s extreme heat was unrelated to El Niño - which usually introduces warm dry conditions - El Niño is being blamed for low rainfall during the June-to-September monsoon season. The monsoon rain deficits have caused drought-like conditions in almost a third of Indian districts, and stress for the country’s farmers.

India’s coffee production is expected to fall to its lowest in five years due to flood damage to plantations in southern states such as Kerala and Karnataka. India exports about three quarters of the coffee it produces, and flood damage has been reported in all key producing areas of the country.

Pakistan’s supreme court reintroduced a ban on Indian television content, accusing India of restricting water to Pakistan. Pakistan’s agriculture depends on water supply from rivers that pass through the tension-rife territory of Kashmir, and Pakistan has denounced India’s building of hydroelectric dams on those rivers.

Pakistani authorities are crowdfunding a hydroelectric project to mitigate water issues in the water-short country. The hydroelectric dam, if completed, would be the world’s sixth tallest and have a capacity of 4,500 MW.

At an estimated 260,000, the number of people displaced by drought in Afghanistan tops the number displaced by the war with the Taliban this year. The Taliban reportedly control more territory in Afghanistan now than at any time since 2001. The United Nations is allocating $34.6 million to help over two million people affected by the drought.

Sri Lanka’s September tea output declined nearly 25 percent to its lowest monthly yield in 17 years, resulting from prolonged drought in the country. Tea is Sri Lanka’s top agricultural export.

NOTE ON ADMINISTRATIVE BOUNDARIES
There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers.

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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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