Indian Forum for Water Adroit

Increasing frequency and spatial extent of concurrent meteorological droughts and heatwaves in India

Chandan Banerjee

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Prof P P Mujumdar's group published a new article in Nature Scientific Reports. The article examines concurrent meteorological droughts and heatwaves.

Abstract: The impacts of concurrent droughts and heatwaves could be more serious compared to their individual occurrence. Meteorological drought condition is generally characterized by low rainfall, but impact of such an event is amplified with simultaneous occurrence of heatwaves. Positive feedback between these two extremes can worsen the rainfall deficit situation to serious soil moisture depletion due to enhanced evapotranspiration. In this study, the concurrence of meteorological droughts and heatwaves is investigated in India using Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) high resolution gridded data over a period of 60 years. Significant changes are observed in concurrent meteorological droughts and heatwaves defined at different percentile based thresholds and durations during the period 1981–2010 relative to the base period 1951–1980. There is substantial increase in the frequency of concurrent meteorological droughts and heatwaves across whole India. Statistically significant trends in the spatial extent of droughts are observed in Central Northeast India and West Central India; however, the spatial extent affected by concurrent droughts and heatwaves is increasing across whole India. Significant shifts are identified in the distribution of spatial extent of concurrent drought and heatwaves in India compared to the base period.

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Chandan Banerjee