CHANSE: Coupled Human And Natural Systems Environment for water management under uncertainty in the Indo-Gangetic Plain


Managing water resources in the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) is challenging because of the basin's uniqueness in scale, it's biophysical complexity and the dynamics of its institutional and socio-economic characteristics. India's green revolution, initiated in the mid-1960s to achieve food security for its growing population, resulted in large-scale environmental change from natural land covers and rainfed cropland to intensively managed agricultural systems. Unmanaged and inefficient water abstraction for irrigation, combined with poorly controlled waste management practices, has severely degraded the quantity and quality of regional water resources and now threatens ecosystem services and human health. Water management in the IGP is challenged by the imbalance between water demand and seasonal availability related the monsoon cycle as well as difficulties in coordinated planning of surface and groundwater resources. A lack of cross-sectorial cooperation leads to competition for scarce water resources, while perverse government subsidies for irrigation water and electricity potentially lead to wastage of resources. Lastly, the basin’s groundwater resources that are, to a large extent, a primary source for irrigation and rural and urban water supply, are independently managed by multiple agencies.

Considering continued economic development and population growth, as well as the impacts of climate change, it is clear that achieving water security in India and especially the IGP is a growing challenge that requires interdisciplinary collaboration across sectors, local communities, institutions and academia. CHANSE, which is funded through the Newton-Bhabha Fund, a joint initiative between UK NERC and Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences, brings together researchers from leading UK and Indian institutions, in partnership with international and local non-governmental organisations, to support water management in the IGP.


Aim and objectives

The main aim of CHANSE is to improve the quantification of the dominant interactions and feedbacks between human activities and the hydrometeorological system of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. The objectives are: 

* To estimate the surface and groundwater availability in the IGP under current and future climates and anthropogenic activities

* To improve understanding of the spatio-temporal dynamics and feedbacks in the coupled human-natural system of the IGP basin

* To develop regional predictions of seasonal and subseasonal monsoon rainfall, decadal climate predictions, and regional weather forecast for flood forecasting that will improve water management strategies

* To identify thresholds in water requirements and desirable surface and groundwater resources to govern sustainable management of coupled water, food and ecological systems in the IGP


CWS contribution

Within CHANSE the CWS team, led by Professor Slobodan Djorjevic and Professor Dragan Savic, is leading the development of an integrated assessment model for the Indo-Gangetic Plain following the System Dynamics approach. This work package will integrate data and models developed within CHANSE in order to perform trend predictions under a range of climate and development scenarios. Ultimately, this tool will enable better informed decision making towards sustainable water management of coupled human and natural systems in the IGP.

In addition, CWS researchers will collaborate with climate experts at IIT Bombay to develop basin to sub-basin scale predictions of seasonal and sub-seasonal monsoon rainfall in the IGP using regional climate models with improved representations of regional characteristics and land surface feedbacks. In particular, CWS will focus on the development of a flood forecasting system for disaster mitigation and water management under weather extremes.


Project partners

* Imperial College London, UK

* Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India

* University of Exeter, UK

* Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, India

* Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology Pune, India

* British Geological Survey, UK

* Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, India

* Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University, India

* United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization


 For further information see the Centre for Climate Change Research, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology webpages

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