Choice of Irrigation Water Management Practice affects Indian Summer Monsoon Rainfall and its Extremes

By Anjana Devanand et al.


There is an emerging understanding towards the importance of land‐atmosphere interactions in the monsoon system, but the effects of specific land and water management practices remain unclear. Here, using regional process‐based experiments, we demonstrate that monsoon precipitation is sensitive to the choice of irrigation practices in South Asia. Experiments with realistic representation of unmanaged irrigation and paddy cultivation over north‐northwest India exhibit an increase in the late season terrestrial monsoon precipitation and intensification of widespread extreme events over Central India, consistent with changes in observations. Such precipitation changes exhibit substantially different spatial patterns in experiments with a well‐managed irrigation system, indicating that increase in unmanaged irrigation might be a factor driving the observed changes in the intra‐seasonal monsoon characteristics. Our findings stress the need for accurate representation of irrigation practices to improve the reliability of earth system modeling over South Asia.

Key Points

  • Representation of irrigation and paddy fields is added to a regional climate model to study that impacts on Indian Summer Monsoon
  • Excess irrigation over northern India causes northwestward shift in September month monsoon rainfall over the land mass
  • Irrigation intensifies widespread extreme events over Central India
This paywalled article appears on the Geophysical Research Letters website at https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2019GL083875

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