Projections of on-farm salinity in coastal Bangladesh
This paper quantifies the expected impacts of climate change, climate variability and salinity accumulation on food production in coastal Bangladesh during the dry season. This forms part of a concerted series of actions on agriculture and salinity in Bangladesh under the UK funded Ecosystems for Poverty Alleviation programme and the British Council INSPIRE scheme. The work was undertaken by developing simulation models for soil water balances, dry season irrigation requirements and the effectiveness of the monsoon season rainfall at leaching accumulated salts. Simulations were run from 1981 to 2098 using historical climate data and a daily climate data set based on the Met Office Hadley Centre HadRM3P regional climate model. Results show that inter-seasonal and inter-annual variability are key factors that affect the viability of dry season vegetable crop growing. By the end of the 21st century the dry season is expected to be 2–3 weeks longer than now (2014). Monsoon rainfall amounts will remain the same or possibly slightly increase but it will occur over a slightly shorter wet season. Expectations of sea level rise and additional saline intrusion into groundwater aquifers mean that dry season irrigation water is likely to become more saline by the end of the 21st century. A study carried out at Barisal indicates that irrigating with water at up to 4 ppt can be sustainable. Once the dry season irrigation water quality goes above 5 ppt, the monsoon rainfall is no longer able to leach the dry season salt deposits so salt accumulation becomes significant and farm productivity will reduce by as a much as 50%, threatening the livelihoods of farmers in this region.