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Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources
Professor Emeritus CED, Trivandrum

CC affects Precipitation (including extremes), Water vapour Snow and land ice Sea level Evapotranspiration Soil moisture Runoff and river discharge Patterns of large-scale variability

CC also impacts systems and sectors Ecosystems and biodiversity, Agriculture and food security, land use and forestry, Human health, Water supply and sanitation, Settlements and infrastructure, Economy: insurance, tourism, industry, transportation.

Drivers of water use Population & Economic Growth in developing nations Lifestyle changes, expanded water supply systems and expanding irrigation use are highest users of all.

ASIA - 43 countries Uneven Water distribution Large areas under water stress 20 have renewable annual per capita water resources in excess of 3,000 m3, 11 between 1,000 & 3,000 m3, 6 below 1,000 m3, but no data for the rest

ASIA (contd)
Large areas of arid & semi-arid lands.

Humid and sub-humid areas water scarcity/stress a major constraint for sustainable development. Fast growing very high population, Low development levels & weak coping capacity, Climate change expected to exacerbate the water scarcity in Asia, along with multiple socio-economic stresses.

Asian Freshwater resources Decreasing trend of annual mean rainfall Russia, northeast & north China, the coastal arid plains of Pakistan, parts of north-east India, Indonesia, Philippines & some areas of Japan

ASIA WATER Substantial interdecadal variability in both the Indian and the east Asian monsoons. Frequency of more intense rainfall events in many parts of Asia on the rise. So severe floods, landslides, & debris & mud flows. Fall in number of rainy days & total annual precipitation.

Rise in frequency & intensity of droughts In Asia - due to rising temperatures, during the summer & normally drier months - Rapid thawing of permafrost & decreasing depth of frozen soils many cities & human settlements, Cause more frequent landslides & degeneration of some forest ecosystems, Cause rise in lake water levels in the permafrost region of Asia

Water shortages in India, Pakistan, Nepal & Bangladesh, attribution to rapid urbanisation & industrialisation, population & inefficient water use. Aggravated by changing climate & adverse impacts on demand, supply & water quality. The BrahmaputraGangesMeghna & Indus Basins water shortages result of actions of upstream riverside-dwellers in storing water

Increasing water stress falling production of rice, maize and wheat in the past decades in many parts of Asia. Due partly to rising temperatures, increasing frequency of El Nio events & reductions in number of rainy days

Gradual reduction in rainfall & resultant aridity aridity in central & west Asia increased in recent years, reduced the extent of grasslands & rise in barren ground & hence higher moisture loss. Gradual fall in rain during the growing season for grass.

CC Causes
Changes in seasonality & volume of discharge in river systems; rising flooding risks in wet season & rising possibility of water shortages in the dry season. Affects brackish-water fisheries, seriously affect the aquaculture industry & infrastructure, particularly in heavily populated megadeltas.

Lower dry-season base flows reduce of some species. Saltwater intrusion of 1020 km upstream in estuaries due to lower river runoff pushed further inland by rising sea levels. Sea-level rises of 0.41.0 m can induce saltwater intrusion 13 km further inland

Higher snow and glacier melt, rising snow lines, would be unfavourable for downstream agriculture in several countries of south and central Asia. In the medium term, climate-change-driven enhanced snow or glacier melt will lead to floods.


Rise in surface air temperature a 27% decline in glacier area, a 1015% decline in frozen soil area, an increase in flood and debris flow, and more severe water shortages by 2050 compared to 196190. Gross per capita water availability in India is projected to decline from about 1,820 m3/yr in 2001 to as little as 1,140 m3/yr in 2050, as a result of population growth and CC causes..

Changes in runoff could have a significant effect on the power output of hydropower-generating countries such as Tajikistan, which is the third largest hydroelectricity producer in the world.


Agricultural irrigation demand in arid and semi-arid regions of Asia estimated to increase by at least 10% for an increase in temp. of 1C Enhanced variability in hydrological characteristics will be likely to continue to affect grain supplies & food security in many nations of Asia

Coastal areas Especially heavily populated megadelta regions in south, east and south-east Asia, expected to face greatest risk of increased river and coastal flooding. In southern and eastern Asia, the interaction of CC with rapid economic and population growth, and migration from rural to urban areas, is expected to affect development

Adaptation and adaptive capacity In developing Asian countries continue to be limited by various ecological, social & economic, technical, institutional & political constraints. Water recycling a sustainable approach towards adaptation to climate change & can be cost-effective in the long term.

Rate of melting of Asian glaciers constant since at least the 1960s-Exception: the central Karakorum


World wide Irrigation uses ~ 70% of total water withdrawals & adds to more than 90% of consumptive water use (i.e. water not available for reuse). Irrigation gives ~40% of total agricultural output.

Since 1960 Globally, irrigated land increased approximately linearly, @ roughly 2% p.a. from 140 million ha in 1961/63 to 270 million ha in 1997/99, i.e., about 18% of todays total cultivated land (Bruinsma, 2003).

India occupies over 3.0 million km2, with enormous diversity of climate, landscape, geology, flora and fauna.

According to National Water Policy in the planning and operation of systems, water allocation priorities are broadly as: (i) drinking water, (ii) irrigation, (iii) hydropower, (iv) ecology, (v) agro-industries and non-agricultural industries, and (vi) navigation.

Indian river system

more than 20 major rivers & several tributaries. Annual precipitation = 4000 km3 (rain+snow). Monsoon yield = 3000 km3. (SW monsoon yield from June to Sept.) Tamil Nadu receives only NE (October and November) monsoon.

India=3.29 million km2

Population =1,027,015,247 persons (Census 2001). (i.e., 2.4% or 1/50th of worlds land; 15% or 1/6th of worlds population; 1/25th of worlds water resources) Indian livestock = 500 million, (20% of worlds). More than half are cattle-backbone of Indian agriculture. Total utilizable water resources = 1086 km3.

GW resources of India (km3/year)

Replenishable = 432 Domestic, industrial and other uses= 71 Available for irrigation= 361 Utilizable for irrigation= 325 (90%) Total utilizable GW resource = 396


Area: 38,836 km2 ; Population: 31.8 million (Census, 2001) Size of side of support square: 34 m; Population density: 798/km Highland, elevation >75.0m ; area: 18,696 km2 ; 48.14% Midland, elevation 7.5-75.0m; area: 16218 km2; 41.76% Coastal land, elevation <7.5 m; area: 3922 km2; 10.10% Low coastal land: 2992 km2; 76.29% High coastal land: 930 km2; 23.71%

Kerala- High land

Natural forest: Decrease in plant species diversityconsequent fall in animal species diversity- increasing dryness higher
wind and water erosion soil loss Soil and nutrients: Loss of soil moisture due to extended days of drought and severe showery days loss of soil and soil nutrients due

to intense rain water erosion


Kerala- High land

Agrobiodiversity: Exposure of cardamom, tea, coffee, rubber and others to long warmer spells and heavy rainy spells both adverse for these crops Pests and vectors: A jump in intensity of invasion- but durations may decline

Kerala- High land

Bleak outlook- span of wet days decline and so is base flow days- decline of days reservoir staying at or near FRL higher power demand due to rising demand for air-conditioning for extended periods; for pumping water from wells, irrigation and drinking water supply schemes. Barren land releases largrger sediment load

Kerala Midland Agro-biodiversity: harmed due to drier soil and drier airdecreasing latex yield in rubber plantations- decreasing homestead farm production decline in livestock farming and milk production decrease in food crop farming and out put 33

Kerala Midland Soil and nutrients: Decrease in nutrients and increase in area under eroded soils- extreme wet and dry spells tend to erode top soil and nutrients

Kerala Midland Agro-biodiversity: Decrease in yield from rubber, coconut, arecanut farms decrease in soil moisture and air moisturesoil microbes change due to physical changes in soil

Kerala Midland Pests & vectors: Density will jump but duration of activity may decline


Kerala Midland Surface & ground water:

Decline in the duration of base flow in streams- aquifers get deeperincrease in kwh/m3 of water lifted for use in farms, industry and homes. Dissolved ion content in water may go up due to decreasing dilution and higher evaporation loss of soil moisture

Kerala Coastal land SLR due to GHG Salt water intrusion in river channels, coastal lagoons & aquifers


Kerala Coastal land GHG led SLR erodes beaches in LCL- shoreline migrates eastward beach front property and homes damaged- civic facilities like coastal roads, water supply lines, waste water disposal and sanitation facilities damaged- power standards & supply system uprooted


Kerala Coastal land: Salinity rise in soil moisture Salination of aquifers damages foundation of public buildings and homes domestic shaft well water turns brackish - quality of public water supply sources decline


Kerala Coastal land: Salinity intrusion into aquifers- inlets and coastal wetlands wetland ecosystems including paddy fields in LCL affected- plant and machinery in the manufacturing units ruin by salinity intrusions


Kerala Coastal land: fauna & flora slide into environmental stress - due to disruptions unable to migrate or re-establish

Wet lands of Kerala

Two Types:Natural (in CL) & constructed (in ML & HL) wetlands Water in wetlands, river channels, intra-costal water ways all suffer by higher salinity, decreasing flow aquatic animal and plant life under duress many species may become extinct water supply system & sources suffer.

Impacts on Social Life:

Increasing violence and anarchy in the society- Disruptions in civic life and stress due to warmer temperatures-Citizens more prone to anger & violence. New diseases: poor sanitation, waterborne & contaminated water.



Hydro dams Modified Irrigation Residue return Drainage of cropland Wastewater treatment Desalinisation Geothermal energy

PROPOSED SOLUTIONS CO2 capture and storage Bio-energy crops; Biomass electricity: Hydropower; Geothermal energy Efficient Energy Use in buildings; Land-use change & management, Cropland management (water), Cropland management (reduced tillage), Afforestation/reforestation, Avoided/reduced deforestation, Solid waste management; Wastewater treatment; Unconventional oil.