Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kashmiri farmers unprepared for drought

Athar Parvaiz in IPS: ...Most residents of [the] lush valley [of Srinigar], nestled between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range, are unaccustomed to drought. For generations subsistence agriculturalists have relied on steady rainfall and glacial rivers to irrigate their farmland, but now this scenic alpine region is feeling the pinch of climate change.

The most recent State of the Environment Report (SOER), released by the Directorate of Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing in the capital, Srinagar, says that all its monitoring stations across Kashmir – except Jammu, which is located 290 km away from the capital – recorded a decreasing trend in total annual rainy days.

A number of other studies carried out in recent years corroborate these findings, adding that glaciers in the Kashmir Himalayas are receding, while snowfall and precipitation are both showing decreasing trends.

A study by Norwegian scientist Andreas Kaab and his French colleagues, which was published by Nature Magazine in August last year, found that increasing temperatures in the region posed no immediate threat to glaciers in the Hindu-Kush Karakoram Himalayas (HKKH) except to those in the Kashmir Himalayas.

Kaab’s findings suggest that Kashmir’s glaciers may be receding by “as much as half a metre annually,” presenting an immediate threat to the rivers that feed the Indus basin....

From NASA, a 2003 satellite image of the Hindu Kush

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