Climate change and role of anthropogenic impact on the stability of Indus deltaic Eco-region

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Research Paper 01/06/2017
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Climate change and role of anthropogenic impact on the stability of Indus deltaic Eco-region

Mohsin Muzaffar, Asif Inam, Mahmood Ahmed Hashmi, Khalid Mehmood, Ibrahim Zia, Syed Imran Hasaney
J. Bio. Env. Sci.10( 6), 164-176, June 2017.
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The Indus River is one of the major river systems of the world and the principal contributor in the creation of the Indus Fan – second largest sediment body in the ocean basins, to talling ~5 x 106 km3. Recent geological and geophysical information obtained from the Pakistan margin suggests that the Indus River and Fan system was initiated shortly after India-Asia collision at ~55 Ma. The Indus River, is currently contributing a fraction of fresh water or sediment in to the Arabian Sea. Consequently, the seawater intrusion has resulted in tidal intrusion in the prime agricultural land in the Indus Deltaic region. Extensive use of fresh water for irrigation in recent years has caused a decline in the down stream discharge of the Indus River. Construction of barrages, dams, and link canals has further reduced the freshwater flow downstream Kotri Barrage from 146 MAF/year to less than 10 MAF/year. In the northeast monsoon period Indus River has practically zero discharge below Kotri Barrage.  As a consequence, the river below Kotri shows increased braiding and sand bar development. Sediment passing down the system tends to be deposited in the section south of Kotri, rather than maintaining the growth of the delta. As a result the Indus Delta that used to occupy an area of about 6,180 km2 consisting of creeks, mudflats and mangrove forest is now reduced to 1,192 km2 since the construction of dams and barrages on the Indus River. Pakistan like other parts of the world is also facing a problem associated with sea level rise along with related issues such as coastal erosion and inundation. The analysis of historical tidal data shows that Pakistan coastal sea level has risen in the same way as the global sea level due to global climate change. Besides eustatic sea level rise, the dominance of local factor like subsidence of land may be a catastrophe for low-lying areas. Indus Delta could experience a relative sea level rise of up to 8-10 mm/yr as per the projected rate of global component of sea-level rise of up to 6 mm/yr in the next century. To mitigate the impacts of rising ground water and associated problem of water logging and salinity, a network of drainage canals was constructed down in the Indus Basin to drain saline ground water into the Arabian Sea. The drainage system has been less effective due to low gradient/flat topography and it has in fact resulted in the seawater intrusion into the link canals up to about 80 km upstream.


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