UK university to help study the climate change impacts in India



Part of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. Photo credit: Wikimedia.


By Anders Lorenzen

A UK university is set to play a key part in a new climate research network of huge importance in a climate sensitive area south of the Himalayas.

The University of Leicester in the UK has received funding to set up a new international research network, together with the Indian Institute of Technology- Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur). The new institute will study the impact of climate on agriculture in the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.

The IGP is a 255 million hectare (630 million acres) fertile plain encompassing most of northern and eastern India as well as the eastern parts of Pakistan, and virtually all of Bangladesh. There is huge scientific and economic interest connected to the area.

Increasing agricultural production and industrialisation to meet the demands of a growing population means that human-induced disturbances threaten the natural ecosystem in this region.

Such changes have been observed to impact the quality of air and emissions of greenhouse gases. And therefore the need to monitor land-use and the regional greenhouse gas budget is becoming critical.

In addition to these pressures, large climatic variations such as extreme changes in rainfall or temperature can also significantly impact crop productivity, food and water security in the future.

The project will be lead by Dr Hartmut Boesch (PI) and Dr Harjinder Sembhi (Co-I) in the UK and by Professor Sachichi Tripathi in India. It will focus on combining expert knowledge in Earth observation space sensors, as well as highly accurate ground-based measurements with state-of-the-art models of the land surface. The aim will be to determine the climatic drivers of yield modulations and its relation to greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr Boesch, commented, “The Indo-Gangetic Plain is a very important region for the regional food supply and the use of EO data will give us novel means of studying the sensitivity of this area to environmental changes.”

The project will be funded by the UK – India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST). This is the first international research program of this kind to bring together the UK Earth observation community with Indian experts to explicitly address the challenges in monitoring climate impacts on agriculture.

The use of novel Earth observation datasets used in the project will provide a much better understanding of regional and long-term changes across the IGP and will show how they impact agricultural yield.

A key side purpose of the project will be focused on the transfer of skills and training of young scientists and students of both countries to help build a sustainable partnership.


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