KATHMANDU, OCTOBER 24
As an impact of ongoing climate change, the frequency of extreme precipitation has increased in recent years.
Increases in such precipitation extremes, either heavy rainfall events or droughts, can impact the socio-economic condition of a region.
Such events in Nepal have contributed to severe flooding and drought in certain regions.
In 2020, an exceptionally wet summer monsoon damaged several properties and infrastructures, which also affected the summer cereal harvests.
While, during the post-monsoon and winter season, the subsequent prolonged dry spells hindered winter crop planting across the country, leading to agricultural losses in consecutive cropping seasons.
On the other hand, after a few months of prolonged drought, Nepal suffered a destructive and historic fire season, and a record-breaking number of fires were ignited in the month of March and April.
In the recent decade, drought and fire have become more prevalent and intense. Compared to historical records, most of Nepal experienced more fires than previously documented, and some regions were even experiencing a 10- fold increase in the number of fires from November to March.
The drought that led to these fires was instigated by well below-average precipitation from November through March.
Like the last monsoon, a series of extreme precipitation in the 2021 monsoon season devastated most parts of the country.
The recent precipitation trend shows that intense precipitation during the monsoon season leads to prolonged dry spells during the post-monsoon and winter season. Since this monsoon became wetter, upcoming post and winter seasons can be exposed to prolonged dry spells, ultimately leading to drought and extreme wildfires. Wildfires associated with drought conditions greatly reduce air quality affecting people's health in a number of ways. In addition, extreme wet and dry conditions can lead to heavy reductions in, and even failures of, crop yield quantity and quality. The resilience of the agricultural sector can be enhanced by developing and implementing dedicated sectoral climate services to reduce risks and seize the opportunities given by tailored climate information.
Seasonal climate predictions have already shown to bring added value for agricultural decision-making in several regions of the world.
Such climate predictions, with lead time of at least 2-3 months, offer a great opportunity to inform and support farmers in their agro-management actions, such as sowing planning, selection of optimal crop variety, fertilisation and field interventions.
A version of this article appears in the print on October 25, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.