Sustaining Precipitation Over India!

Around 55% of agricultural area in India depends on Monsoon Precipitation. But climate-change induced randomness in rainfall patterns is killing the farmers - it is not a joke around 10,000 farmers and agri-dependent persons die by suicide every year - which is heartbreaking!. What is the Cause?
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The relationship between central Indian terrestrial vegetation and monsoon rainfall distributions in different hydroclimatic extreme years using time-series satellite data - Theoretical and Applied Climatology

The study explored the dependence of the spatio-temporal pattern of rainfall and its variability on the spatial distribution of forests in the central Indian landscape, which covers ~1 million km2, includes five states, and supports a population of 329 million people. The monsoon rainfall is, thus, a crucial source of freshwater for these population. We analyzed the relationship between rainfall and satellite-derived vegetation vigor, vegetation fraction, and elevation across 22 experimental zones across central India (i.e., forested, non-forested, and agricultural regions; buffer zones within and outside forests). Around 87% of annual rainfall is received during the monsoon, with maximum rainfall (~1600 mm) in Odisha and minimum (~900 mm) in Maharashtra. The average rainfall was greater (~1500 mm) inside forests than in non-forested regions (~1000 mm). Moreover, 245 mm km−2 year−1 of rainfall was observed over forests during monsoon, but only 215 mm km−2 year−1 in non-forested areas. Overall, rainfall increases from the forest edge towards the forest core logarithmically at a rate of ~10 mm km−1 year−1, and it decreases exponentially when moving away from the forest edge at an average rate of −20 mm km−1 year−1 over 0-to-50 km range, and at a rate of −7.5 mm km−1 year−1 over the 50-to-100 km range. This rate of decrease was maximum in Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand and minimum in Chhattisgarh. The results confirmed the crucial role of forests in the distribution of monsoon rainfall, but in the elevated and Western Ghats regions, the orographic effect is dominant. These findings are of great concern to forest policymakers to conserve and protect the central Indian forests.

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Huge population and High Water Demand need the sustainable presence of water. But major water sources in India are Rivers and monsoon rainfall. Ground water level is depleting fast, and hence monsoon rainfall is the only hope to renew the surface and underground water sources.  But rainfall is becoming erratic. To sustain the rainfall over the Indian region, we need to understand the rainfall pattern first. Though various factors control rainfall occurrences one of the main factors as hypothesized in our research work is Forest Cover. For example, we have noticed that majority of the area in Maharashtra in the eastern aspect of Western Ghats are frequently facing droughts. Our Long term analysis of Rainfall revealed that lack of large area of Natural Forest cover could be the Major reason for this. We have proved that Forest attracts rainfall in our study.  Also, one can see increasing trend of rainfall in the Rajasthan and Punjab area which has some link to the increasing Green Cover due to various Water Conservation Measures and Canals. 

To verify the link between the presence of Forest and Rainfall we have taken the whole of Central India. Central India is a complex tropical forested landscape spread over five Indian states [Maharashtra (MH), Madhya Pradesh (MP), Chhattisgarh (CH), Odisha (OD), and Jharkhand (JH)], covering a total area of 986,580 sq. km, extending between 15–26° N and 72–88° E.

we investigated the dependence of the spatiotemporal distribution of rainfall on the spatial distribution of forests in the central Indian forested landscape. Specifically, in a natural experiment, we explored and compared quantitatively the spatiotemporal variability in rainfall
within (i) forested, (ii) adjacent non-forested, and (iii) agricultural regions. Furthermore, the aim was to measure the rate of change in rainfall in the presence and absence of forests across different buffer zones and the variability in rainfall in different elevations and density classes inside and outside forests. We used CHIRPS monthly rainfall data, MODIS normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), vegetation continuous field (VCF), and ASTER elevation data to examine the inter-annual and monthly variability in rainfall in the different strata. 

The published article can be seen at:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00704-023-04582-2

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