Ganga-Brahmaputra basin mapped

Researchers, in a first first-of-its-kind study after mapping the rivers, have claimed that Ganga-Bramhaputra Basin together store around 960 cubic km of water. They have also said that it will help understand droughts and floods to better manage water resources in the region.

  • Scientists from India, the U.K., France and Bangladesh undertook mapping of the two rivers during 2003 to 2007 from the basins with the help of satellite images.
  • The researchers believe that these new datasets will provide an opportunity to study the signatures of droughts and floods, and ultimately to help better manage water resources in the region.

Details of the research:

  • Researchers found that both surface and sub-surface water storage in the basin show strong year-to-year variability. During the monsoon of 2006, which can be considered as a drought year, there was a 30% deficit in water storage in the basin when compared to that of the other years.
  • The research was carried out using the satellites Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and Envisat.
  • The study also used in situ (field) observations, which were acquired from Bangladesh. However, with in situ observations, it is difficult to study large areas as measurements are done at single points. Hence, a multi-satellite approach, which gives a better understanding of the spatial variation of water-related observables, was necessary.

Ganga Brahmaputra Meghna Basin

Ganges-Brahmaputra basin:

  • The Ganges-Brahmaputra basin covers a large area, extending over India, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Bangladesh. The basin houses rivers, floodplains, lakes, wetlands and the largest delta in world, all of which contribute significantly to the regional climate; groundwater, surface water and rainfall form an interconnected cycle and are constantly affecting each other.
  • The study was aimed at understanding the relationship between these elements by quantifying water storage at different levels, and variations across years.
  • The Ganga-Brahmaputra basin constitutes the second largest hydrologic region in the world.
  • The basin is nestled amidst the natural watersheds of Himalayas in the north, Vindhayas in the south, the Aravalis in the west, Patkai, Naga and Lushai hills in the east.
  • The Ganga-Brahmaputra basin is a single, sprawling, integrated, transboundary drainage system with a common terminus.
  • The basin consists of two major river systems of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra and one relatively smaller river system of the Barak, which becomes the Meghna in Bangladesh.
  • About 63% of the basin is in India, 7% in Bangladesh, 8% in Nepal, and 2.5% in Bhutan. Almost 10% of the world’s humanity lives in this region, which contains only 1.2% of the landmass.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

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