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Monsoon variability, the 2015 Marathwada drought and rainfed agriculture

Kulkarni, Ashwini and Gadgil, Sulochana and Patwardhan, Savita (2016) Monsoon variability, the 2015 Marathwada drought and rainfed agriculture. In: CURRENT SCIENCE, 111 (7). pp. 1182-1193.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.18520/cs/v111/i7/1182-1193


The impact of the drought of the summer monsoon of 2015 has been particularly large in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra which is now facing unprecedented water scarcity and more than one thousand farmers have committed suicide. Substantial losses in the production of important crops such as pulses have been reported in Maharashtra. Naturally, the Marathwada drought has been extensively covered in the print and electronic media. The large impact has been attributed to exceptionally large deficit in rainfall by some journalists and politicians, to two successive droughts in 2014 and 2015 by some and some have considered the drought to be a manifestation of climate change. In this article, we present an analysis of the Marathwada monsoon rainfall from 1871 onwards and show that the quantum of deficit rainfall in 2015 as well as the occurrence of two successive droughts is within the observed variability of the Marathwada rainfall and the 2015 monsoon rainfall also cannot be considered as a manifestation of climate change. Thus the large impact of 2015 is a reflection of poor management of water resources and agriculture, despite the long experience of rainfall variability. We show that the prediction by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) of a high chance of below normal rainfall or a drought on the all-India scale and the occurrence of El Nino could have been used to anticipate large deficiency in Marathwada rainfall. We suggest that the problem of lack of progress in the production of rainfed crops such as pulses has to be addressed by using the rich rainfall data sets in the country to generate information which can be used by farmers and agricultural scientists to identify strategies, which are tailored to the entire spectrum of rainfall variability experienced. Towards this end an interactive software `RAINFO' has been developed at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology ((IITM), Pune to provide location-specific information derived from the IMD data, on the desired facets of rainfall variability.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belongs to the INDIAN ACAD SCIENCES, C V RAMAN AVENUE, SADASHIVANAGAR, P B #8005, BANGALORE 560 080, INDIA
Department/Centre: Division of Mechanical Sciences > Centre for Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2016 06:50
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2016 06:50
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/55334

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