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Climate Change May Green The Thar Desert


  • BN Goswami of the Department of Physics at Cotton University in Guwahati and PV Rajesh of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune recently proposed that the Thar desert’s extinction is a real possibility as a result of global warming.
    • They used rainfall and climate data, concentrating on the so-called Indian Ocean Warm Pool, to support their theory (IOWP).


GS Paper-3: Climate Change and its impacts.

Mains Question

Describe the warm pool in the Indian Ocean. Analyze how the IOWP has affected the distribution of the monsoon in India. (150 Words)


Although climate change has many negative effects, on the other hand, it might be good for the Thar desert.

In the direction of the Thar Desert becoming greener

  • The Indian Ocean Warm Pool (IOWP), which is located in the Indian Ocean, has been known to exist for many years.
  • In the majority of regions, the Indian Ocean warm pool (IOWP), which is comprised of sea surface temperatures (SST) values > 28 °C, is significantly growing.
    • The IOWP is moving westward in response to climate change.
  • Ocean surface evaporation is cooled by atmospheric winds, which occasionally causes deeper, colder waters to rise to the surface. This occurrence is referred to as “upwelling.”
  • This occurs in the western Arabian Sea during the summertime close to the Somalian coast.
    • As a result, the area’s waters are cooler, leaving another location with a “warm pool.”
  • Evaporating water rises at the warm pool’s western edge, but the earth’s rotation pulls it diagonally across India.
  • As a result, the northeast receives precipitation for 150 days while the northwest only receives rainfall for 70 days.
  • The ‘length of the rainy season’ would increase by 50–100% over the semi-arid northwest of India as a result of the IOWP moving further west.
    • As a result, the Thar desert might experience plentiful rains and gradually turn green.

The Thar Desert

  • The Thar Desert, also referred to as the Great Indian Desert, is a sizable and arid region in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent.
    • It is roughly 200,000 square kilometres in size.
    • It creates a natural border between Pakistan and India.
  • About 85% of the Thar Desert is in India, and the remaining 15% is in Pakistan.
    • It is split between Punjab and Sindh (Sind) provinces in eastern Pakistan and Rajasthan, Gujarat state, in northwestern India.
    • Sand dunes encircle an undulating sandy plain.
    • There is very little rainfall in this area—less than 150 mm annually. It is rapidly growing due to population migration, changes in the rainfall pattern, the spread of sand dunes, and unscientific plantation drive, along with the gradual destruction of the Aravalli ranges. It has an arid climate with little vegetation cover.

Convention of the United Nations to Combat Desertification

  • The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is an international agreement that aims to stop desertification and lessen the effects of drought through national action plans that include long-term plans backed by partnerships and international cooperation.
  • The Convention was adopted in Paris, France, on June 17, 1994, and went into effect in December 1996. It is the only convention that directly refers to Agenda 21 from the Rio Conference.
  • It is the lone international legal agreement established to deal with the issue of desertification.
  • It is founded on the fundamentals of good governance and sustainable development—participation, partnership, and decentralisation.
  • In 2019, COP14 took place in New Delhi.

Expected Timeline

  • Although it is impossible to predict whether it will occur in 50 or 100 years, the Indian monsoon will continue to move west as long as global warming persists, at the very least through the end of the century.
  • The increased rainfall dispersed over a longer season will aid in the growth of taller vegetation. The length of the monsoon season is predicted to increase from approximately 70 days to approximately 90 days by that time.
    • If water is not made available to the plants during the dry winter months, such as by irrigation or water table elevation, they could perish.
  • Therefore, if the run-off from the monsoon season could be harvested, greening would be hastened.


  • Over time, the increased rainfall has the potential to significantly boost local food production and green the desert.
  • To increase groundwater reserves in the short term, it is necessary to plan for harvesting the extra water.

December 2023