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Kashmir and Ladakh are without snow this winter

Context:

  • One of Kashmir’s main winter tourism spot, Gulmarg, has not received snow this season.
  • This lead to a decrease in the flow of tourists and severely hitting the business of ski resorts.
  • However it is important to note that the snowfall in Kashmir is much more than just a tourist attraction.
  • It is important for the local climate, winter crops and horticulture, availability of waters in streams and rivers, and for the local economy.

Dry winter in the region:

  • Winter precipitation in Jammu and Kashmir, and also Ladakh, is mainly in the form of snowfall.
  • Generally, the region gets its first snowfall in the first half of December, and then most of January.
  • But it has been mostly dry this season.
  • According to Meteorological Department (IMD) data Jammu and Kashmir saw 80 per cent rainfall deficit in December, and 100 per cent (absolutely no rain) deficit in January so far.

Impacts:

  • Less snowfall in the region is expected to have both short-term and long-term impacts.

Long-term implications include:

  1. generation of less hydroelectricity,
  2. an increase in the rate of glacier melting, and
  3. an adverse impact on the drinking water supply, since scanty snowfall means very little recharge of groundwater.
  • In the short term, a dry spell can result in an increase in forest fires, agricultural drought, and also a drop in crop production.
  • It can lead to an early spring, which means early flowering, which may cause a reduction in yield.
  • The winter snow is also a source of steady moisture to the soil that is vital for winter crops, particularly horticulture.
  • Yields of apples or saffron, important ingredients of local economy, are badly affected due to lack of snowfall.

The post Kashmir and Ladakh are without snow this winter appeared first on Vajirao IAS.

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