More floods to hit India? Here’s how climate change is affecting Ganga’s flow


Heavy rainfall and unending monsoons have caused the water levels in prominent rivers to rise, causing floods and destructions in nearby localities. Now, researchers have predicted that more floods are likely to hit India, simply because of the effects of climate change.

A new study by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur has said that human activities and climate change are having a negative effect on the basin of Ganga, altering its flow, rendering the nearby areas prone to more floods in the future.

The study, which has been published in the journal Scientific Reports, shows how increased human activities have already changed the course of Ganga and caused massive pollution. The report also shows how building dams and other constructional activities have impacted the region deeply.

The report further studies the impacts of past human activity on the mountainous regions and how they have led to pollution and climate change, specifically laying importance on two significant tributaries, Bhagirathi and Alaknanda, which merge at Devprayag to form the Ganga.

The study by IIT and IISc researchers further shows that the Alaknanda basin has experienced a doubling of water flow from 1995 to 2005 with an increase in the rate of flow of water, terming it as extreme flow. This hints at the increased risk of floods in the Ganga basin in the near future.

India Today quoted the lead researcher of the study, Somil Swarnkar, as saying, “We observed that Alaknanda basin has a high, statistically increasing rainfall trend, unlike the Bhagirathi basin. Most of these trends were observed in the downstream region of the Alaknanda. Therefore, we have also seen an increase in the magnitude of extreme flow in these regions.”

The IISc study further states that the building of dams and coupled with the drastic effects of climate change on the Alaknanda region has led to the modification of water activities, influencing the sediment transported by the river.

Though climate change has had a deep impact on the overall precipitation and water levels of Ganga and other rivers in the country, the researchers have said that advances in technology and new types of hydraulic structures can be deployed to make this change less severe.

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