13 Changing Precipitation Patterns Challenges Food Security in the Indus Basin

Monday, 8 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Ashish Kondal, West Virginia Univ., Morgantown, WV; and M. Usmani, L. Lin, and A. Jutla

Agriculture based economies, such as the Indus basin, relies heavily on seasonal variability in the availability of water for crop production to ensure food security for human population. There is an annual increasing trend in crop production (wheat and rice) in the entire Indus basin, despite significant spatial and temporal changes in precipitation patterns. Regardless of the season, farming in the region is heavily supported by groundwater withdrawal that provides irrigation water to crops. This oversubscription of water is likely to create an imbalance in ecological functions (availability and recycling of nutrients, loss of elasticity of soil etc.) and therefore we argue that disregard of seasonal variability in availability of water will likely to impact soil functions such that it will not be able to sustain the stress of crop growth. Here using satellite derived precipitation, vegetation and evapotranspiration processes, and feedback based system dynamics approach, we will show several scenarios under which agriculture can fail in the Indus Basin. Some of the scenarios can have devastating impacts on the only successful water treaty in the world and hence will have consequential role in ensuring fragile peace in the region. Our preliminary results, using several dataset, indicate a significant increase in precipitation (both convective and large scale) in summer months. We will also discuss role of seasonality as a function of growth of food crops in the entire basin.
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