India is drying out, study claims

New Delhi: The persistent moisture deficit conditions, increase in hot days and day-night temperature is "drying India" and causing Latur-like water crisis, a latest study jointly conducted by Skymet Weather Service and ASSOCHAM claimed on Friday. "Today nine states are reeling under drought. India has seen two back to back droughts. India is drying out. The overall temperature has been increasing while the all India monsoon has been decreasing from 1960 onward," the paper 'Managing Climate Risk in Agriculture' stated. Skymet, India's independent weather forecasting service along with the India Meteorological Department has however predicted normal rainfall this year. But the onset of these rains is still far away.  The prediction of good rains was based on the pattern changes evident with drop in 'El Nino', a climatic phenomenon which is the warm phase of the cycle of warm and cold temperatures in the Pacific Ocean that also impacts the monsoon. A high El Nino has a negative effect in terms of the weather, agriculture and economics. "There is an increase in the mean annual air temperature in many regions of the country," the report added. The report claimed that the prominent increase has been observed in the number of hot days, day and night temperatures from 1951 to 2013.  At present several parts of the country are facing water crisis, leading to distress in the rural landscape.  The report states that the climate change's severe impact on Indian agriculture is "undoing a lot of the achievements of the Green Revolution". "Fluctuating weather patterns are increasingly manifesting themselves in stronger and more formidable ways. The recent Chennai deluge, El Nino induced back to back droughts and heat records setting new standards every year - all of these point bigger calamities in the future unless we treat climate change as a serious threat to the environment and to humanity," Jatin Singh, CEO of Skymet said.  The report pointed out the drastic effects of climate change on the yield of crop like rice.  "An increase in temperature by 2 degree Celsius decreases the grain yield by 15 to 17 percent." "It is an alarming situation because the paddy and wheat production in Northeast India has already been stagnating or even declining. Short-season crops (vegetables and fruits) are the worst affected by changes, particularly during critical periods of their growth," the report adds.