South Asia: Widespread water surpluses forecast

19 September 2019

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast through May 2020 indicates water surpluses as the dominant anomaly in the region. Areas of exceptional surplus include much of Bangladesh; along India’s western coast from north of Mumbai past Goa in the south, and central Rajasthan; and Ghazni Province in Afghanistan.

Surpluses will cover a vast expanse in India from Gujarat in the west leading northeast through Rajasthan and much of Madhya Pradesh into central Uttar Pradesh. Intense surpluses will follow the west coast, as previously mentioned, from Mumbai past Goa. Surpluses are also expected in India’s far northern states, in southern Chhattisgarh and neighboring Odisha, and southern Andhra Pradesh through most of Tamil Nadu in the southeast. Deficits are forecast for Telangana around Hyderabad and nearby in southeastern Maharashtra.

In Pakistan, surpluses will be intense in the far north, and moderate to severe on the Afghan border and along the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab Rivers. Deficits are expected in southwestern Pakistan.

In Afghanistan, surpluses reaching exceptional intensity are forecast from Kandahar to Kabul in the east and from Herat nearly to Mazar-e Sharif in the west. Surpluses of lesser intensity are forecast along parts of the Helmand River through the center of the country.

Surpluses are also expected in Nepal and western Bhutan.

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

The forecast through November indicates that deficits in India will nearly disappear, returning many former areas of deficit to normal water conditions or surplus. Surpluses will persist in a vast stretch from Gujarat in the west through Rajasthan, increasing in Madhya Pradesh. Surpluses will be exceptional in central Rajasthan. Moderate to severe surpluses are forecast for central Uttar Pradesh. Surpluses will persist on the west coast from Mumbai into Karnataka and will include exceptional anomalies in southwestern Maharashtra. Southern India will transition from deficit to primarily moderate surplus in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and into Sri Lanka. Moderate surpluses are expected from southern Chhattisgarh into Odisha. Surpluses in the far north will downgrade.

In Pakistan, surpluses will shrink along rivers in the east but will be severe on the northern portion of the Indus and extreme along the border with Afghanistan. Moderate deficits are expected to emerge in southwestern Pakistan. Widespread surpluses will persist in central Afghanistan, increasing somewhat as surpluses re-emerge. Anomalies will be exceptional around Mazar-e Sharif and south of Kabul.

Surpluses will shrink and downgrade in Nepal, leaving moderate anomalies, and surpluses will persist in western Bhutan. In Bangladesh, widespread surpluses will persist but will downgrade in most areas from exceptional to severe.

From December 2019 through February 2020, surpluses will persist in India in a pattern similar to the prior three months’ forecast, with the exception that both deficits and surpluses (pink/purple) are forecast for Gujarat as transitions occur. Moderate deficits are forecast to emerge directly north in western Rajasthan. In southeastern India, moderate surpluses will increase; surpluses in Chhattisgarh will shrink somewhat. Some primarily moderate deficit anomalies will emerge in India’s Far Northeast. In Bangladesh, surpluses will remain widespread, but exceptional anomalies will downgrade. Conditions in central Pakistan will transition from surplus to normal, and deficits in the southwest will become merely mild. The extent of surplus in Afghanistan is expected to shrink somewhat but exceptional anomalies will increase in a band across the center of the nation.

The forecast for the final months – March through May 2020 – indicates nearly normal water conditions returning to Afghanistan and Pakistan, diminished surpluses in Bangladesh, and a pattern of surplus in India similar to the December through February forecast.

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

IMPACTS
At least 24 people were killed following downpours in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India last month. All schools were ordered closed in light of safety hazards.

India deployed the army, navy, and air force along with the National Disaster Response Force for search and rescue operations in states heavily affected by this year’s monsoon rains, which have killed more than 1,000 people country-wide as of August. Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Gujarat, the four worst affected states, were in the midst of drought just prior to this year’s monsoon season.

The large-scale flooding this summer spiked vegetable prices in Delhi as transportation costs rose due to route diversions.

A movement of women called the “Jal Sahelis” - water women friends - is emerging in India’s water-stressed communities of the north-central Bundelkhand region. In galvanizing their community members, the Jal Sahelis are reportedly reviving water management systems in each of more than 200 Indian villages in the region by organizing action to harvest rainwater, dig wells, de-silt ponds, build dams, and repair pumps.

In Afghanistan’s central province of Parwan just north of Kabul Province heavy rains caused flash flooding that killed two people and blocked Salang Pass, a route through the Hindu Kush connecting northern Afghanistan to Parwan and Kabul.

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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