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«DIPLOMA THESIS Linking Climate Change with Food Security in the highlands of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Northwest Pakistan Presented by: Martin Kienzler ...»

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In a similar study Hageback et al. (2005) investigated the impact of climatic changes on land-use and agricultural patterns in a mountain region in central China, an area where agriculture mainly depends on monsoonal rainfall, too. They used the data of local meteorological stations to find out that the climate of this region is getting warmer and drier despite high interannual variability of precipitation. In a second step

Chapter 2. Climate change and food security in South Asia - State of research

they resort to different kinds of qualitative interviews to analyse how local farmers perceive the observed climatic changes. The perception of the population turned out to be quite good in this case, but farmers somehow became less dependent on agriculture “by adopting a more diversified livelihood” (Hageback et al., 2005). This might be able to reduce the vulnerability to climate variability.

The people’s perception and adaptation to distinct climatic changes in the Himalayas of India, Nepal and Bhutan was identified by Macchi et al. (2011). By interviewing farmers they found a general temperature rise in all Himalayan regions and a considerable decrease of annual precipitation amounts, especially in winter. Furthermore intensive rainfall events seem to occur more often. The farming in the high-altitude areas of these regions benefits from shorter winters and higher temperatures, because crops mature faster. Indeed the delayed onset of monsoon and the increasingly erratic rainfall present new challenges for the mostly subsistence farming systems within the mountain communities.

2.3.2 Impacts of climate change on food security in mountainous Pakistan There are several studies dealing with the impacts of climate change on food security and agriculture in the Hindu Kush - Himalaya (HKH) region, of which will be shown a selection of the relevant ones below.

Hussain & Mudasser (2007) assessed “potential future impacts of climate change on wheat yields in Swat and Chitral districts of Pakistan” by calculating the development of Growing Season Length (GSL) and Growing Degree Days (GDDs). In both districts GSL is said to decrease while an increase in GDDs should occur. This may have a positive impact for agriculture in the mountain areas of Chitral ( 1500 m asl) and provoke increases in wheat yields, because crops can more likely reach maturity. Furthermore it would probably be possible to grow two or more crops per year in high mountain areas. In contrast they predict yield declines in the foothills of Swat valley (around 900 m asl), because the optimal temperature will be exceeded soon, unless “they adopt the warmer-season [wheat] varieties used in the plains” Hussain & Mudasser (2007). This study shows that Climate Change may have tremendously different impacts in different altitudes. Also Hussain (2003) suggests that above 1,500 m “wheat cultivation for grain production would be possible” due to increasing temperatures.

Hussain et al. (2005) subdivide the region into two separate subregions: the mostly winter rain dominated high mountain region (35◦ -37◦ N) and the monsoon dominated sub-mountain region (31,5◦ -35◦ N). The results of data analyzing (PMD stations data) show a slight cooling in mean annual temperature in the period 1971-2000 while winter temperatures show a strong rising trend in both regions. This has an important effect on deglaciation and snow melt, which both will strongly affect fresh water supply, e.g. for irrigation, in both mountainous and plain areas of Pakistan. As well Hussain et al.

(2005) expect “positive benefits (..) due to increases in [winter] temperature in the highmountain areas” regarding the shortening of Growing Season Length (GSL), although “the environmental costs of this could be very high due to accelerated soil erosion” (Rasul, 2010).

Chapter 2. Climate change and food security in South Asia - State of research

Another study revealed possible beneficial impacts of climate change on agriculture in the mountainous monsoon belt of Pakistan: Sultana et al. (2009) classified ten climate stations of Pakistan into the four climatic zones similar to the classification of Chaudhry & Rasul (2004)(arid, semi-arid, sub-humid and humid). On the basis of a crop model (CSM-Cropsim-CERES-Wheat) they analysed the vulnerability of wheat production to climatic changes, especially to rising temperatures. The result was that a continuous increase of mean temperatures will result in declining yields of wheat in all climatic zones except the humid zone. Here a positive trend of wheat yields was detected (figure 2.4), however only up to a rise of temperatures of 4◦ C. In contrast wheat production in the sub-humid zone is supposed to decline even more rapidly with rising temperatures than that in arid and semi-arid regions, a reason for this being the rainfed conditions. Increasing temperatures lead to a shortening of crop life cycle in all zones, the reduction accounts for 4, 5, 6 and 9 days per degree centigrade rise in temperature in arid, semi-arid, sub-humid and humid regions respectively. But apparently only the humid zone benefits from this shrinkage of the length of crop life cycle (+20% of wheat yields at a temperature rise of 4◦ C), comparable to mountainous regions at an elevation above 1,500 m as Hussain & Mudasser (2007) proposed.





Figure 2.4 – Absolute (left) and percentage (right) trends in wheat yields with temperature changes at 375 ppm CO2 concentration in arid, semi-arid, sub-humid and humid zones.

Source: Sultana et al. (2009) 3 The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

- Study Area

3.1 Physiography The research area of this thesis is limited to the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formally known as North West Frontier Province, NWFP), including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Khyber Pakhtunkhwa occupies the northwestern part of Pakistan, adjoining Afghanistan in the west, Gilgit-Baltistan (Northern Areas) in the northeast, the semi-autonomous Azad Kashmir in the east, and the provinces Punjab and Belochistan in the southeast and southwest respectively.

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The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has an area of 74,521 km2, while the FATA covers 27,220 km2. Together they occupy an area of 101,741 km2, which makes up 12,8 % of Pakistan’s total area. (Govt. of KP, 2011) 3.1.1 Topography

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa can be divided into three separate topographic regions:

The northern one is characterized by high mountain ranges, which are among the highest ranges of the world. The Hindu Kush range, with Tirich Mir (7,708 m asl) as its highest peak, arises along the Afghan border in the northwestern part. The Hindu Raj

Chapter 3. The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - Study Area

(Koyo Zom, 6,872 m) separates KP from Gilgit-Baltistan in the north and the Chitral valley from the rest of KP. Even the foothills of Karakoram and Himalaya (Malika Parbat, 5,290 m) in the north and northeast respectively are part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The high mountain ranges are divided by the valleys of Kunar, Swat, Indus and Kunhar river (from west to east).

The central part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is dominated by the Peshawar basin, a fertile valley at approximately 300 m asl along the Kabul river, which enters Pakistan from Afghanistan and is joining the Indus river at the western border of KP. West of Peshawar arises the Safed Koh range (Mount Sikaram, 4,761 m) along the border with Afghanistan. Only the narrow valley of Kabul river separates the “White Mountains” from the Hindu Kush range in the north.

The topography of southern KP is characterized by the Waziristan Hills, a mountainous region in the west, the highest elevations do not exceed 3,000 m. The terrain slopes down constantly to the desert-like Derajat basin in the southeast and the Indus river in the east. In the most south the Sulaiman Mountains divide KP and Belochistan, the highest peak is Takht-e-Sulaiman (3,487 m).

Figure 3.2 – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - physical. Source: Columbia University (2012)

3.1.2 Geological setting The northwestern part of Pakistan, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is situated within a plate boundary zone between two continental plates: the Eurasian and the Indian Plate. The collision of the two plates began around 30 to 40 million years before, causing uplift and producing some of the highest mountain ranges in the world: The Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Pamir ranges. The Indian plate is still moving northwards

Chapter 3. The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - Study Area

at a rate of about 40 mm per year (1.6 inches/year). Thus seismic activity is very high in the region, resulting in innumerous earthquakes. The most devastating earthquake in the history of Pakistan happened on 8th of October 2005 in southern Kashmir, destroying some parts of Kaghan valley, too. (Gill, 2009) 3.1.3 Climate The distinct geographical features of South Asia, namely the high mountain barriers of the Hindu Kush - Himalaya - Karakoram system and the Sulaiman Mountains limit the horizontal exchange of continental and oceanic airmasses and protect the region from the mid-latitude influences of Central Asia. For this reason the Indian Subcontinent has unique characteristic climate patterns.

Two features generally affect the climatic situation of northwestern Pakistan: Cyclonic disturbances originating in the westerly jet stream during winter months and the influence of the Indian summer monsoon, which is the determining factor of South Asian climate but does not reach all parts of the study area.

Western disturbances The circulation during winter months is dominated by the southern branch of the westerly jet stream, which fluctuates between 28◦ C and 30◦ C North, resulting in cold air flow from Iran and Afghanistan into the northern half of Pakistan between October and May.

The consequences are strong cyclonic disturbances, which are more frequent “over the western Himalayas and Karakoram (..) because of strong vertical wind shear in the basic current” (Xue & Yanai, 2005). These are called “western disturbances” and originate from the mid-latitude cyclones over the Mediterranean Sea, West Asia and the Atlantic Ocean. They are generated through increased convection at the front side of upper level troughs and ridges, which flow eastward within the suptropical jet stream. Mostly the cyclones reach the region in occluded form, therefore large-scale cyclonic rainfall is rare. The western disturbances bring considerable amounts of precipitation of up to 150 mm per month in northern Pakistan (figure 3.3) and form the only rainy season in the northwestern part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the secondary precipitation maximum in the monsoonal belt of Pakistan. (Syed, 2011; Xue & Yanai, 2005) Variabilities of winter rainfall are partly driven by sea surface temperature anomalies in the Indian Ocean and the tropical Pacific and hence by the El Niño / Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Warm ENSO phases (El Niño), causing a characteristic low pressure trough which reaches into Central Asia from the North, correspond with excess winter precipitation over the Northwestern part of South Asia when strengthened western disturbances encounter this low pressure trough. In contrast cold ENSO phases (La Niña) correlate with deficit winter precipitation, sometimes leading to severe droughts like in the period 1998-2002. Furthermore periods with high precipitation amounts during winter months correlate with a positive NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) phase, during which western disturbances are intensified. The effect of NAO is supposed to weaken in comparison to the ENSO effect. (Khan, 2004; Syed, 2011)

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Figure 3.3 – (a) Winter (DJFM) and (b) summer (JJAS) mean precipitation (1980-2009) in mm/month (shaded) and the standard deviation of precipitation (contours) over South Asia.

Source: modified from Syed (2011) Monsoon dynamics With the northwards movement of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) low pressure starts to develop over the Indian peninsula due to increased heating over land from March on. A major role plays the Tibetan Plateau, which “acts as an elevated heat source” Sarfaraz (2007) and fortifies the effect of the heat low. The premonsoon season, lasting from March to May, represents the hottest and driest period over the most parts of South Asia, because there is still no considerable cloud cover to prevent solar radiation from reaching earth surface. The northern part of Pakistan is still influenced by western disturbances, even though weakened. The low pressure reaches its maximum in July and is centered over central Pakistan, northwest India and the Ganges plain and a monsoon trough develops between the heat low and Gangetic west Bengal. Simultaneously high pressure develops over the southern Indian Ocean causing the airmasses to move towards the Indian Subcontinent, which collect a lot of water vapor on their way over the Indian Ocean. By the time the westerly jet stream turns to flow north of the Himalaya, the ITCZ reaches northern India at around 25◦ North and merges with the monsoon trough, leading to intensive rains from June on. Monsoon depressions form in the Bay of Bengal and move northwest along the trough line, reaching Pakistan in July. Monsoon rainfall forms the precipitation maximum in the central part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in July and August, causing the temperature maximum being in June before the onset of monsoon rains. In most parts of Pakistan monsoon rainfalls contribute about 65-70% to the total annual precipitation, in the region of Sindh they even account for more than 80%. It can be assumed that summer precipitation in northern Pakistan is distributed to two different phases: The “premonsoon trough phase” in July is characterised by more episodic and intense rainfalls. It occurs prior to the arrival of the monsoon. The rainfall of the “monsoon trough phase” in August is less episodic and rather persistent (Wang et al., 2011). Monsoon lasts until end of September, while October marks a transitional time

Chapter 3. The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - Study Area



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