Low rainfall in August gives way to arid conditions in India
No less than 638 districts out of 733 experienced “light” to “severe” arid conditions in the country.
Low rainfall in August in India gave way to arid conditions across the country. Aridity would likely have covered at least 87% of the country by September 1, according to the Aridity Anomaly Prediction Index released by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).
The index is the difference between the actual aridity of the week and the normal aridity.
As many as 638 out of 733 districts experienced “light” to “severe” arid conditions; only 65 were “non-arid”. There was a drastic change in the lack of humidity on August 25; about half of the districts fell into the “non-arid” category.
Data for the remaining 30 districts were not available.
At least 150 of 638 districts experienced “severe” drought between August 26 and September 1, according to the weekly Aridity Anomaly Outlook Index.
Most of these districts are found in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Jammu and Kashmir.
Some of those states have experienced a huge shortage of rainfall this monsoon season. Gujarat, for example, had the highest number of districts in the “severe” category, recording a rainfall deficit of 50 percent.
Jammu and Kashmir recorded a deficit of 30 percent, followed by Punjab (24 percent), Rajasthan (12 percent), Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh (7 percent each).
The aridity index is significant because it refers to the water stress experienced by growing plants due to lack of moisture, both in terms of soil moisture and precipitation. An anomaly compared to the normal value would therefore mean a shortage of water in these districts which could directly impact agricultural activity.
A negative or zero value on the anomaly index implies that the location experienced less arid / dry conditions than normal; a positive value indicates that the area has experienced more arid / drier conditions than normal.
According to this criterion, districts such as Kachchh, Banaskantha, Bhavnagar, Patan, Dwarka, Surendranagar in Gujarat; Amritsar in the Punjab; Shamli in Uttar Pradesh; and Sirohi in Rajasthan had the worst index values (high positives).
Meanwhile, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh had the most districts facing “moderate” arid conditions. The 65 non-arid districts mainly belonged to Leh, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Sikkim, a few pockets of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and one or two districts of Odisha, Haryana and Bihar.
The index is calculated taking into account both soil moisture and precipitation. The anomaly map, which gives information on the water stress undergone by growing plants, indicates a qualitative retardation of plant growth and therefore low yields.
The situation is not likely to improve. The IMD rain forecast for August 30 indicates that there will be increased rainfall activity over western and central India until September 2, and a reduction thereafter.
The intensification of precipitation over the southern peninsula of India is expected to decrease from September 7.
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