' Warming may push India into a groundwater crisis ' : The warming climate could drive India to use up its groundwater much more rapidly in the coming decades, according to projections published this month in the journal Science Advances.

INDIA already pumps up more underground water than any other country, largely to irrigate staple crops like wheat, rice and maize.

But hotter temperatures are drying out fields and leaving less moisture to soak into the soil and replenish the aquifers below.

Unless big steps are taken to promote water efficiency, underground supplies could shrink between 2041 and 2080 at three times the present rate, the new estimates suggest.

GROUNDWATER is vital for farming in India, supplying 60 percent of all irrigation. But growers in parts of the country are already starting to exhaust aquifers - layers of water-soaked dirt and rock - that could take centuries to refill.

And, at the moment, India doesn't have dams and other infrastructure needed to significantly increase its river-fed irrigation.

'' If you run out of groundwater, there aren't other quick fixes, like providing canal irrigation, that can get you to the same level of production,'' said Meha Jain, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan's School for Environment and Sustainability, who contributed to the new research.

In their projections, the authors didn't try to predict the effects of water-saving changes that haven't yet occurred on a large scale in India.

These include shifts to less thirsty crops like millet, use of more efficient watering techniques like drip irrigation and results from changes in government policy, such as free or cheap electricity in rural areas.

They also didn't try to account for the possible physical limits to water pumping - in other words, the very real likelihood that wells in parts of India will go completely dry.

The Publishing continues. The World Students Society thanks author Raymond Zhong.


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