Land Surface Temperature In Maharashtra, India Reached Alarming Levels In May

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
June 11, 2023
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Land Surface Temperature In Maharashtra, India Reached Alarming Levels In May
Rising Land Surface Temperature in Maharashtra Poses Urgent Environmental Concerns, According to W-CReS Analysis

Land Surface Temperature (LST) in Maharashtra reached alarming levels in the month of May, posing severe threats to the environment, agriculture, and livelihoods, warns a recent analysis conducted by Geoinformatics researchers at WOTR Centre for Resilience Studies (W-CReS). The study reveals a significant increase in LST levels, particularly in semi-arid regions, such as Marathwada, Vidarbha, Konkan, and parts of Western Maharashtra, and highlights the urgent need for action.

Land Surface Temperature serves as a critical parameter for monitoring global changes in heat flux and surface temperature, offering valuable insights into environmental climate change, ecosystem dynamics, and natural resource management. The rise in LST levels has been linked to extreme weather phenomena, including droughts and heatwaves, which have devastating impacts on ecosystems, livelihoods, and biodiversity. The escalating global trend of LST has raised widespread apprehension due to its detrimental consequences.

Driven primarily by global warming, the escalating land surface temperatures in semi-arid regions of India continue to witness consistent increases day by day. Multiple factors influence LST, including surface air temperature, soil moisture, soil roughness, vegetation type, elevation, and the balance between shortwave and longwave radiation. These elements collectively contribute to the determination of LST and its variations across different regions.

In India, a substantial portion of the cultivated area falls within the semi-arid tropics, comprising approximately 75% of the total cultivated area in the country. These areas are primarily found in the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Rajasthan which are particularly vulnerable to drought, affecting the livelihoods of 265 million people residing in rural areas. Insufficient and unpredictable rainfall, extreme temperatures, and intense solar radiation exacerbate the vulnerability of these regions.

The analysis conducted by the researchers focused on Maharashtra’s land surface temperature variation using MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) LST satellite data (A NASA satellite), This high-resolution dataset, acquired through sensors on the Terra and Aqua platforms, provided valuable insights into the spatial distribution of LST. The study concentrated on May 2023; a month associated with peak summer temperatures in Maharashtra.

According to Vijay Solanky, a senior GIS researcher at W-CReS, “The findings of our analysis highlight the critical state of land surface temperature in Maharashtra. The escalating surface temperatures pose immediate threats to soil health, water resources, agriculture, and the delicate balance of ecosystems. Urgent action is required from all stakeholders to address this pressing issue and implement measures to mitigate the impacts of rising land surface temperatures.”

The results revealed a concerning rise in land surface temperature across various regions in Maharashtra. Areas including Vidarbha, Marathwada, Khandesh, and Western Maharashtra experienced soaring temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius, with some regions even surpassing 48 degrees Celsius. The implications of these rising temperatures are far-reaching, posing threats to soil health, water resources, agriculture, and the overall environmental balance.

To address these urgent concerns, WOTR emphasizes the need for immediate action and collaboration among relevant stakeholders. Efficient water resource management, adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, increasing vegetation cover by tree and grass planting, and enhanced heatwave preparedness are key strategies to mitigate the impacts of rising land surface temperatures. Moreover, global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change are vital for long-term mitigation. Maharashtra can lead the way in securing a sustainable future for its communities and natural resources.

About WOTR

WOTR is a nationally and internationally recognised non-profit and think tank dedicated to transforming the lives of millions of poor across India through participatory watershed development and eco-systems restoration, climate resilient sustainable agriculture, integrated and efficient water management and climate change adaptation, with a special emphasis on building resilience of vulnerable communities, farmers, and women.

Established in 1993, the non-profit organization WOTR works at the intersection of practice, knowledge and policy to ensure food, water, livelihoods and income security to disadvantaged communities on a sustainable basis.

Headquartered in Pune, Maharashtra, WOTR has a presence in eight states and provides services to agencies across all states of India and from 63 countries. The organisation aims to develop ecosystems in an integrated manner for the well-being of poor communities. WOTR has worked in 4,395 villages and has impacted over 4.43 million people cumulatively since 1993. These figures cover projects in all its areas of implementation, training and capacity building activities.

About W-CReS

Realising the significant knowledge gap in developing ‘evidence-based climate risk mitigation and adaptation strategies’, The WOTR Centre for Resilience Studies (W-CReS) was established in 2016. W-CReS bridges the gap between science, policy and practice and contributes towards building adaptive and resilience capacities at all levels by engaging with institutional and other stakeholders.

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