What are the key spatial variations in India's ability to sustain drought?

A paper published in the “Journal of Hydrology” has found a spatial variation in ecosystem’s ability to sustain drought. The researchers used biomass and evapo-transpiration to understand how efficiently water was used by vegetation.

India’s ability to sustain drought

A resilient ecosystem is one which can absorb drought by increasing or maintaining its efficiency to use water to sustain its productivity

  • According to the study based on the data from 2000 to 2014 only 241 of 634 (about 38%) districts were found to be resilient to drought or dry conditions.
  • The remaining 62% of districts were non-resilient to drought at varying degrees of slight (180 districts), moderate (80 districts) and severe (133 districts).
  • The resilient districts covered nearly 32% of the area of India.
  • The severely non-resilient districts alone covering nearly 30% of India.
  • Only 10 of the 29 States and Union Territories had more than 50% resilient area.
  • Districts with predominant forest cover had better resilience than those districts were cropland dominated.
  • About 75 districts had forest cover that was greater than 40% of the district area, and more than half of such districts were resilient.
  • About 65% of the districts with less than 20% forest cover were non-resilient.
  • Districts with temperate climate had a higher tendency to be resilient than the ones with tropical and dry climate.
  • Kerala despite with dense forest cover had only about 19% resilience while Sikkim had 100%.
  • The resilience for Karnataka was even less than that of Kerala.
  • Solar radiation is much more controlling factor in the Western Ghats and also the evapo-transpiration is higher in the Western Ghats than in northeast
  • States in the lower Himalayan regions had higher resilient areas.

Punjab (88%), Haryana (76%), Uttarakhand (75%), Himachal Pradesh (73%), and Arunachal Pradesh (64%) had more areas that were resilient. Tamil Nadu led the table with nearly 57% resilience followed by Andhra Pradesh (53%) and Telangana (49%) in the southern part of India.


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