About 42 percent of India’s land area is facing drought, with 6 percent exceptionally dry–four times the spatial extent of drought last year, according to data for the week ending March 26, 2019, from the Drought Early Warning System (DEWS), a real-time drought monitoring platform.

“Before monsoon, which is still far away, the next two or three months are going to be difficult in many of these regions,” Vimal Mishra, associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, and the developer of DEWS, told IndiaSpend.

Failed monsoon rains are the primary reason for the current situation. The North-East monsoon, also known as ‘post-monsoon rainfall’ (October-December) that provides 10-20 percent of India’s rainfall, was deficient by 44 percent in 2018 from the long-term normal of 127.2 mm, as per data from the India Meteorological Department.

Deepti Singh.

“Today, we live in a much warmer world than we did in the 1870s. So, a warmer climate can have adverse effects on droughts making it more extreme,” said Deepti Singh, assistant professor at the School of the Environment at Washington State University, U.S., She said droughts during 1876-77 and 2015-16 were triggered by extremely strong and long-lasting El Ninos. “However, droughts have continued to persist in India post-2016 despite a change from El Nino conditions, which to me is an indication of the effect of global warming,” she said.

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