The grey lin­ing

Down to Earth - - LETTERS - K KAILASANATHAN PRIN­CI­PAL SCI­EN­TIST (CLI­MATE RE­SOURCES) IN­DIAN AGRI­CUL­TURAL RE­SEARCH IN­STI­TUTE, NEW DELHI

This is with ref­er­ence to your com­pre­hen­sive cover story on clouds, pub­lished in the 16-31 Au­gust, 2016, is­sue. No doubt, clouds are a good in­di­ca­tor of day-to-day weather, and thus in­flu­ence the growth of crops and the for­tune of farm­ers. But they are also re­spon­si­ble for spread­ing plant dis­eases.

Stud­ies by the In­dian Agri­cul­ture Re­search In­sti­tute have im­pli­cated clouds in the spread of a wheat rust dis­ease, Karnal bunt. Clouds, along with the wind sys­tem in the up­per at­mos­phere, can carry spores of the virus to greater dis­tance. As they pre­cip­i­tate, the spores set­tle on the veg­e­ta­tion be­low. This is how the wheat crop in north­ern In­dia suf­fer from yel­low and brown rusts dur­ing the West­ern Dis­tur­bances in the win­ter sea­son. While In­dia has made progress in study­ing clouds, more re­search is needed to study their im­pact on agri­cul­ture.

JANHAVI ASTHANA

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