Integrated Assessments of the Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture: An Overview of AgMIP Regional Research in South Asia uri icon


  • South Asia encompasses a wide and highly varied geographic region, and includes climate zones ranging from the mountainous Himalayan territory to the tropical lowland and coastal zones along alluvial floodplains. The region's climate is dominated by a monsoonal circulation that heralds the arrival of seasonal rainfall, upon which much of the regional agriculture relies. The spatial and temporal distribution of this rainfall is, however, not uniform over the region. Northern South Asia, central India, and the west coast receive much of their rainfall during the southwest monsoon season, between June and September. These rains partly result from the moisture transport accompanying the monsoonal winds, which move in the southwesterly direction from the equatorial Indian Ocean. Regions further south, such as south/southeast India and Sri Lanka, may receive rains both from the southwest monsoon, and also during the northeast monsoon season between October and December (with northeasterly monsoonal wind flow and moisture flux), which results in a bi- or multi-modal rainfall distribution. In addition, rainfall across South Asia displays a large amount of intra seasonal and inter annual variability. Inter annual variability is influenced by many drivers, both natural (e.g., El Nifio Southern Oscillation; ENSO) and man-made (e.g., rising temperatures due to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations), and it is challenging to obtaining accurate time-series of annual rainfall, even amongst various observed data products, which display inconsistencies amongst themselves (exemplified in Fig. 1). These climatic and rainfall variations can further complicate South Asia's agricultural and water management

publication date

  • 2015