Friday, December 14, 2018 | 12:05 AM

Long dry spells in Kashmir an ‘emerging trend’

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Director meteorological department Srinagar Sonam Lotus has said that an analysis of the weather data of the past decade shows a trend of prolonged dry spells emerging in Kashmir. This year, there has been no rainfall since September 10.

“We have a dry spell for the past 61 days. As per our records, it was not the case in Kashmir. We have made analysis that a trend of prolonged dry spell is emerging in Kashmir during the past few years. Last time it rained, it was only 4mm of rainfall on 10th September 2017,” Lotus was quoted by a Srinagar daily.
Normally, Kashmir receives more than 100 mm of rainfall from September to December.

He said that in June 73.9 mm, in July 34.4 mm, in August 24.4 mm and in September 4 mm rainfall was recorded in Kashmir.

Lotus said that in 2016, Kashmir witnessed the longest dry spell of the decade.

“In 2016, from mid-September to January 2017, Kashmir recorded only 5mm of rainfall against the normal rainfall of 100mm,” he said.

He said that Kashmir had also witnessed a long dry spell in 2007, but that had lasted only for three months.

“In 2007, no rainfall was recorded for October, November and December. However, in 2016 the dry spell stretched for five months,” he said.

On October 15, very light snowfall occurred in the higher reaches of Gulmarg.

Lotus said that light to moderate rainfall was expected on November 14 and November 15.

“Dry spell is likely to end next week,” he said.

Meanwhile, Srinagar on Friday recorded minimum and maximum temperatures of 19.6 degrees Celsius and 0.9 degrees Celsius respectively.

Doctors have advised people to take precautionary measures to avoid falling prey to cold-related diseases, including flu and common cold.

People across Kashmir are experiencing a surge in flu, cold and other respiratory ailments, with doctors saying that they are seeing more patients suffering from cold-related ailments. Experts say the frequency of dry spells observed over Kashmir during the autumn season has shown an “increasing trend, particularly since mid-nineties.”

“This has resulted in significant depletion of the streamflows in the valley.  The observed decreasing precipitation trends in autumn supported by the climate simulation modeling over Kashmir Valley demonstrates that global warming is increasing the risk of  extreme climate events in Kashmir Himalayas,” Professor Shakeel A Romshoo, head of Kashmir University Earth Sciences department, told Greater Kashmir.

The loss of glaciers in the region under changing climate and the decreasing precipitation observed during autumn is going to further deplete the streamflows in the future and thus, adversely affecting the water supplies for domestic use and energy generation, he said.

“Therefore, the water planners and decision makers in the state need to think of developing robust strategies for sustainable and judicious use of the depleting water resources in the state,” Romshoo said.

Reflecting on how dry weather affects human health, renowned chest specialist, Dr Naveed Nazir Shah, was quoted by the daily that when the atmosphere dries up, the temperature goes down and a combination of this dryness in atmosphere and dip in temperatures “paralyses” the local respiratory immune system. This, he said, increases the chances of respiratory tract infections in people of all age groups, especially those suffering from ailments like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Asthma, or other immune-compromised or systemic disorders.

“Even normal persons, due to low temperatures and dry weather, are at a risk of increased incidence of respiratory tract infections,” Dr Shah, who specialises in tuberculosis and respiratory diseases, said. Dr Shah—professor and Head, Chest Medicine, Chest Diseases Hospital Srinagar—urged people to take plenty of fluids to boost up and rejuvenate their immune system. “The COPD and Asthma patients must strictly adhere to prescribed medicines while high-risk patients must get vaccinated,” he said.