Climate Change

Rainfall trends decline sharply across regions in Karnataka

Madikeri taluka, where the Cauvery river originates, witnesses a decline of 10 mm rainfall per year

By Jitendra
Published: Monday 03 June 2019

A new study has found that almost 50 per cent talukas or administrative divisions in Karnataka faced decreasing rainfall between 1956 and 2016. The rainfall pattern has been significantly changing, making the lives of 64 million people of the state vulnerable.

The Karnataka Natural Disaster Monitoring Center conducted the study, which states that most of the talukas in south interior Karnataka and parts of Chikkamagaluru, including Hassan, Shivamogga and north of Belagavi districts reported an increasing trend, while the remaining parts of state reported a decreasing trend.

Yadgir and Dakshin Kannada districts reported a significant decreasing trend in southwest monsoon. The study, which has not been made public yet, found that out of a total 176 talukas, 87 witnessed decreasing rainfall trend; while 83 registered an increasing rainfall trend over the last six decades. There were only six talukas where no change was registered.

Five talukas in Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Kalaburgi and Yadgir districts witnessed 95 per cent decline in rainfall. Both Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada are part of the Western Ghats — a global biodiversity hot spot.

One of the most prominent river in the region — Cauvery river — which originates from the Western Ghats, is in a vulnerable state. The Madikeri taluka where the river originates witnessed a sharp decline in rainfall — by around 8 per cent every year.

The sharp decline in rainfall in the region has dried up the river. The origin has witnessed decline in rainfall between 442 millimetre (mm) between 1956 and 2016.

This region has been witnessing extreme drought-like condition despite normal monsoon last year. Both Madikeri and Virajpet regions have been witnessing a steady decline in yearly monsoon.

The Global Forest Watch (GFW), which collects annual data on global forests with the help of satellite imagery, recently warned that the biodiversity of Western Ghats is under threat.

A large chunk of the Western Ghats, which primarily stretches across four districts of Karnataka, lost 20,000 hectares (ha) of its area over the last 17 years.

The rapid loss of tree cover can adversely affect the rivers in the long run. Between 2012 and 2017, four districts of Uttara Kannada, Udupi, Kodagu and Dakshina Kannada lost 10,000 hectares of tree cover.

Prominent talukas that registered a decline include Virajpet, Madikeri (-7.9 mm) and Somwarpet (-2.6 mm) of Kodagu district; Sullia (-10.4 mm) Belthangady (-10.4 mm), Bantwal and Mangalore (-8 mm) of Dakshina Kannada district; Udupi (-9.3 mm) and Karkala (-11 mm) of Udupi; Honnavar (-0.5 mm), Sirsi (-1.9mm), Kumta (-0.7 mm) Yellapur (-8.7 mm), Haliyal (-1.5 mm) of Uttara Kanada.

Only 14 talukas witnessed a 95 per cent increase in rainfall, including Chitradurga, Hassan and Tumakuru — which were considered as mostly drought-prone districts.

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