South Asia: Water deficits in India will shrink & downgrade

16 August 2019

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast through April 2020 indicates widespread water surpluses in Afghanistan reaching exceptional intensity from Kandahar to Kabul in the east, around Mazar-e Sharif in the northwest, and in the south along the Helmand River.

In Pakistan, surpluses will be intense in the far north, and moderate to extreme on the Afghan border and along the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab Rivers.

India can expect intense surpluses in Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan, moderate to exceptional surpluses in the Far Northeast, and primarily moderate surpluses in the western Gangetic Plain. Surpluses are also forecast long the western coast around Mumbai, and in north-central Maharashtra.

Deficits are forecast at the intersection of Maharashtra, Telangana, and Karnataka, and will be extreme around Hyderabad. Deficits are also expected in southern Karnataka, Kerala, and western Tamil Nadu.

Widespread surpluses are expected in Bangladesh and will be exceptional. Surpluses are also forecast for Nepal and Bhutan.

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

The forecast through October indicates that deficits in India will downgrade and shrink considerably, returning many former areas of deficit to normal water conditions. Some primarily moderate deficits will linger in southern Karnataka. Surpluses of varying intensity will persist in India’s far north and northeast, the western Gangetic Plain, and Rajasthan, and will emerge along Gujarat’s northern border. Anomalies will reach exceptional intensity in central Rajasthan and pockets of Jammu and Kashmir. Surpluses will re-emerge in southeastern Maharashtra, and moderate surpluses are forecast in north-central Maharashtra.

Widespread surpluses will persist across a wide swath of central Afghanistan, shrinking slightly around Mazar-e Sharif in the north and transitioning as deficits emerge, but remaining intense from Kandahar to Kabul in the east. Surpluses will persist in Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan, in the north, and along the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab Rivers. In Nepal, surpluses will shrink considerably, leaving moderate to severe surpluses down the center of the country around the Gandaki River. Surpluses will remain widespread in Bangladesh, though the extent of exceptional anomalies will diminish somewhat.

From November 2019 through January 2020, surpluses will persist in far north India, the western Gangetic Plain, Rajasthan, and along Gujarat’s northern border, and will remain exceptional in central Rajasthan west of Jaipur. Surpluses will nearly disappear in southeastern Maharashtra, and moderate surpluses will persist in the north-central region of the state. Moderate surpluses will emerge in eastern Tamil Nadu and in Sri Lanka. In Afghanistan, surpluses will remain intense across the central bulk of the nation and will increase around Mazar-e Sharif as areas of transition disappear. Surpluses will shrink and downgrade in Pakistan and Nepal, and moderate but remain widespread in Bangladesh. Exceptional deficits are forecast to emerge in coastal Gujarat.

The forecast for the final months – February through April 2020 – indicates normal water conditions returning to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and surpluses in India and Bangladesh similar to the November through January forecast.

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

IMPACTS
[updated 26 Aug 2019]
At least 270 people have been killed and over a million displaced across six Indian states in this year’s monsoons. Flooding washed away thousands of hectares of summer-sown crops, damaged roads and rail lines, and flooded several monuments at the ancient town and World Heritage Site of Hampi in Karnataka state. Cochin International Airport in Kerala recorded nearly 410 mm (16 inches) of rainfall in five days. At least 80 landslides occurred in the state of Kerala in two days.

Flash floods and landslides triggered by monsoon rains killed at least 55 people in Nepal and injured another 33. In Pakistan, at least 28 were killed, 150 houses and businesses were destroyed, and electrical service was disrupted in Karachi. Flash flooding in mid-August swept away two children at an amusement park in Islamabad.

Flooding in Bangladesh killed at least 108 people in early August. According to the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, over seven million people have been affected, and 163,000 hectares (402,782 acres) of cropland damaged.

The late monsoons contrast wildly with the extreme drought plaguing much of India this summer. Indian drought is reportedly having demographic consequences in which families with daughters are less likely to oblige men’s marriage proposals, fearing their daughters will spend the rest of their lives fetching water.

Drought in pulse-producing regions of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Karnataka is blamed for cutting Indian exports of pulses down 59 percent compared to the same time last year, following an 8.7 percent drop in production.

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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