Impact of Climate Change on the Hydrologic Sensitivity of Sundarban Reserve Forest
The increase in global average temperatures caused by the regular but uncontrolled extraction and degradation of natural resources by either artificial or natural means has initiated noticeable amounts of aberrations in climatic conditions of many regions of the world. Scientists are now busy searching for the causes of rising temperature and different methods of mitigation to counteract the impacts of climate changes that are now “very visible.” India is no exception but is at the top of the list of vulnerable countries. The uncertainties imposed on the climate have already displaced and destroyed large numbers of people and their households. Every year the list of casualties due to extreme weather conditions increases. Regions with high levels of regular rainfall now receive less than the average amount of precipitation, which in turn creates a scarcity of water where water was abundant even 20–30 years ago. As the destruction and exploitation of natural resources continue, the situation grows more alarming. The recent hostilities between Kerala and Karnataka over the sharing of Periyar Dam water are a vivid representation of the impact of climatic aberrations. Sundarban Biosphere Reserve is one of the world’s largest mangrove forests. Popular for its Royal Bengal tigers, it is situated in the eastern peninsular. The reserve is home to crocodiles, king cobras, and many other rare and endangered species. The impact of climate change has influenced the ecological equilibrium of this biosphere reserve. The saline water intrusion and regular decrease in yearly rainfall have limited the water availability of the islands. The uncontrolled extraction of wooden resources has reduced the forest cover that had earlier acted as a protection from cyclonic storms. Alarmingly very few studies have been conducted to measure the level of climatic impacts on the Sundarban Islands or its inhabitants. The availability of fresh water is a matter of concern for the livelihood of the people and the endangered wildlife living on the islands. But no study to identify climatic impacts on the availability of freshwater to local habitants has been undertaken to date. That is why the present project tries to quantify the effects of climate change on freshwater availability with the help of a new index known as hydrologic sensitivity. A combinatorial database considering all possible situations was constructed and applied to predict hydrologic sensitivity, which represents climate change impacts on water resource conditions of the world’s only mangrove tiger land.
KeywordsArtificial neural network Freshwater availability Sundarban biosphere reserve
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