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Climate change impacts on rainfall and temperature in sugarcane growing Upper Gangetic Plains of India

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Assessment of variability in climate extremes is crucial for managing their aftermath on crops. Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.), a major C4 crop, dominates the Upper Gangetic Plain (UGP) in India and is vulnerable to both direct and indirect effects of changes in temperature and rainfall. The present study was taken up to assess the weekly, monthly, seasonal, and annual trends of rainfall and temperature variability during the period 1956–2015 (60 years) for envisaging the probabilities of different levels of rainfall suitable for sugarcane in UGP in the present climate scenario. The analysis revealed that 87% of total annual rainfall was received during southwest monsoon months (June–September) while post-monsoon (October to February) and pre-monsoon months (March–May) accounted for only 9.4 and 3.6%, respectively. There was a decline in both monthly and annual normal rainfall during the period 1986–2015 as compared to 1956–1985, and an annual rainfall deficiency of 205.3 mm was recorded. Maximum monthly normal rainfall deficiencies of 52.8, 84.2, and 54.0 mm were recorded during the months of July, August, and September, respectively, while a minimum rainfall deficiency of 2.2 mm was observed in November. There was a decline by 196.3 mm in seasonal normal rainfall during June–September (kharif). The initial probability of a week going dry was higher (> 70%) from the 1st to the 25th week; however, standard meteorological weeks (SMW) 26 to 37 had more than 50% probability of going wet. The normal annual maximum temperature (Tmax) decreased by 0.4 °C while normal annual minimum temperatures (Tmin) increased by 0.21 °C. Analysis showed that there was an increase in frequency of drought from 1986 onwards in the zone and a monsoon rainfall deficit by about 21.25% during June–September which coincided with tillering and grand growth stage of sugarcane. The imposed drought during the growth and elongation phase is emerging as a major constraint in realizing high cane productivity in the zone. Strategies for mitigating the negative impacts of rainfall and temperature variability on sugarcane productivity through improvement in existing adaptation strategies are proposed.

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Correspondence to Ram Ratan Verma.

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Verma, R.R., Srivastava, T.K. & Singh, P. Climate change impacts on rainfall and temperature in sugarcane growing Upper Gangetic Plains of India. Theor Appl Climatol 135, 279–292 (2019).

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