De­for­esta­tion af­fects rain­fall

Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT -

CON­VER­SION OF forests into agri­cul­tural lands is weak­en­ing In­dia's south­west mon­soon, a study pub­lished by the jour­nal Na­ture says. Trees chan­nel mois­ture from the soil into the air through tran­spi­ra­tion. This con­trib­utes to around 25 per cent of to­tal mon­soon pre­cip­i­ta­tion dur­ing the mon­soon's later stages. De­for­esta­tion, how­ever, re­places deep­rooted plants with shal­low-rooted veg­e­ta­tion that can­not do the same job. The authors com­pared two time pe­ri­ods in two In­dian re­gions to an­a­lyse the im­pact of land use and land cover on change in rain­fall. Be­tween the 1980s and 2000s, land cover in Cen­tral In­dia changed from woody sa­van­nah to crop land and from woody sa­van­nah to ev­er­green broadleaf in the North­east. When the pre­cip­i­ta­tion re­ceived in the 1980s and 2000s in the two re­gions was sim­u­lated, a de­crease in rain­fall was found. The study, con­ducted by sci­en­tists from IIT Bom­bay and the Univer­sity of Ne­braska, is sig­nif­i­cant as the south­west mon­soon con­trib­utes up to 80 per cent of the an­nual rain­fall in the coun­try.

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