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Title: Invisible water, visible impact: groundwater use and Indian agriculture under climate change

Abstract

India is one of the world's largest food producers, making the sustainability of its agricultural system of global significance. Groundwater irrigation underpins India's agriculture, currently boosting crop production by enough to feed 170 million people. Groundwater overexploitation has led to drastic declines in groundwater levels, threatening to push this vital resource out of reach for millions of small-scale farmers who are the backbone of India's food security. Historically, losing access to groundwater has decreased agricultural production and increased poverty. We take a multidisciplinary approach to assess climate change challenges facing India's agricultural system, and to assess the effectiveness of large-scale water infrastructure projects designed to meet these challenges. We find that even in areas that experience climate change induced precipitation increases, expansion of irrigated agriculture will require increasing amounts of unsustainable groundwater. Finally, the large proposed national river linking project has limited capacity to alleviate groundwater stress. Thus, without intervention, poverty and food insecurity in rural India is likely to worsen.

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [1];  [2];  [2];  [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA (United States). Dept of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education
  2. Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham, NH (United States). Inst. for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
  3. Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA (United States). Earth and Environmental Systems Inst.
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Stanford Univ., CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER); National Science Foundation (NSF)
OSTI Identifier:
1436294
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0005171
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 11; Journal Issue: 8; Journal ID: ISSN 1748-9326
Publisher:
IOP Publishing
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; groundwater; climate change; Indian monsoon; food security; inter-basin water transfers

Citation Formats

Zaveri, Esha, Grogan, Danielle S., Fisher-Vanden, Karen, Frolking, Steve, Lammers, Richard B., Wrenn, Douglas H., Prusevich, Alexander, and Nicholas, Robert E. Invisible water, visible impact: groundwater use and Indian agriculture under climate change. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/8/084005.
Zaveri, Esha, Grogan, Danielle S., Fisher-Vanden, Karen, Frolking, Steve, Lammers, Richard B., Wrenn, Douglas H., Prusevich, Alexander, & Nicholas, Robert E. Invisible water, visible impact: groundwater use and Indian agriculture under climate change. United States. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/11/8/084005
Zaveri, Esha, Grogan, Danielle S., Fisher-Vanden, Karen, Frolking, Steve, Lammers, Richard B., Wrenn, Douglas H., Prusevich, Alexander, and Nicholas, Robert E. Wed . "Invisible water, visible impact: groundwater use and Indian agriculture under climate change". United States. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/11/8/084005. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1436294.
@article{osti_1436294,
title = {Invisible water, visible impact: groundwater use and Indian agriculture under climate change},
author = {Zaveri, Esha and Grogan, Danielle S. and Fisher-Vanden, Karen and Frolking, Steve and Lammers, Richard B. and Wrenn, Douglas H. and Prusevich, Alexander and Nicholas, Robert E.},
abstractNote = {India is one of the world's largest food producers, making the sustainability of its agricultural system of global significance. Groundwater irrigation underpins India's agriculture, currently boosting crop production by enough to feed 170 million people. Groundwater overexploitation has led to drastic declines in groundwater levels, threatening to push this vital resource out of reach for millions of small-scale farmers who are the backbone of India's food security. Historically, losing access to groundwater has decreased agricultural production and increased poverty. We take a multidisciplinary approach to assess climate change challenges facing India's agricultural system, and to assess the effectiveness of large-scale water infrastructure projects designed to meet these challenges. We find that even in areas that experience climate change induced precipitation increases, expansion of irrigated agriculture will require increasing amounts of unsustainable groundwater. Finally, the large proposed national river linking project has limited capacity to alleviate groundwater stress. Thus, without intervention, poverty and food insecurity in rural India is likely to worsen.},
doi = {10.1088/1748-9326/11/8/084005},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1436294}, journal = {Environmental Research Letters},
issn = {1748-9326},
number = 8,
volume = 11,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {8}
}

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Cited by: 14 works
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Works referenced in this record:

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  • Lehner, Bernhard; Liermann, Catherine Reidy; Revenga, Carmen
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    Works referencing / citing this record:

    India's depleting groundwater: When science meets policy
    journal, January 2019


    Some Contributions of Integrated Assessment Models of Global Climate Change
    journal, January 2017


    Response of Water Resources to Future Climate Change in a High-Latitude River Basin
    journal, October 2019


    Groundwater depletion causing reduction of baseflow triggering Ganges river summer drying
    journal, August 2018


    Long-term groundwater recharge rates across India by in situ measurements
    journal, January 2019


    The role of irrigation in changing wheat yields and heat sensitivity in India
    journal, September 2019


    On the Changes in Groundwater Storage Variability in Western India Using GRACE and Well Observations
    journal, November 2019


    Adaptation to climate change: historical evidence from the Indian monsoon
    journal, June 2017


    Trend analysis using discrete wavelet transform (DWT) for long-term precipitation (1851–2006) over India
    journal, September 2017


    Achieving sustainable irrigation water withdrawals: global impacts on food security and land use
    journal, October 2017


    Appraisal of the groundwater balance components from multi-remote sensing datasets in a semi-arid region
    journal, October 2018