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17th January 2024 (10 Topics)

Unprecedented Lack of Snowfall in Kashmir and Ladakh: Causes and Implications


The winter season in the Kashmir and Ladakh region, known for its picturesque snow-covered landscapes, is experiencing an unusual dearth of snowfall.

Impact: Impacting the tourist industry but also carrying significant repercussions for agriculture, horticulture, water resources, and the local economy, raises concerns about the changing climatic patterns in the region.


  • In recent years, the Kashmir valley has witnessed a declining trend in snowfall, and the current season stands out as particularly remarkable.
  • The iconic tourist destination of Gulmarg, renowned for its winter sports, has seen a stark absence of snow, leading to a substantial decrease in tourist footfall and adversely affecting the business of ski resorts.

Factors Contributing to Reduced Snowfall:

  1. Western Disturbances:
  • Winter precipitation in the Himalayan region is primarily influenced by Western Disturbances – eastward-moving rain-bearing wind systems originating beyond Afghanistan and Iran.
  • These disturbances play a crucial role in bringing snowfall to Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh during the winter months.
  • However, the frequency of these disturbances has shown a declining trend in recent years.
  • In December, only one feeble western disturbance event occurred, failing to bring any substantial rains.
  • A decline in the overall frequency of western disturbance events has led to reduced precipitation during the winter months.
  1. Climate Change:
  • The overarching factor contributing to the decreasing trend of snowfall is climate change.
  • Atmospheric scientists highlight that rising temperatures, particularly in higher elevation areas, are a significant factor.
  • Recent studies have shown a 43% decline in the mean frequency of strong and extreme Western Disturbances.
  1. El Nino Impact:
  • The persistence of El Nino in the Pacific Ocean has further complicated the situation.
  • El Nino has disrupted the global atmospheric circulation, potentially contributing to the deficit in precipitation in the region.
  • While El Nino is not the sole reason, it appears to exacerbate the already existing challenges.


  1. Short-Term Consequences:
  • Tourism Downturn:The absence of snow in Gulmarg has led to a significant decline in tourist arrivals, impacting the local economy and ski resorts.
  • Forest Fires and Agricultural Drought:Dry spells can result in an increase in forest fires and agricultural drought, adversely affecting crop production.
  1. Long-Term Challenges:
  • Hydroelectricity Generation:Reduced snowfall poses a threat to hydroelectricity generation in the region.
  • Glacier Melting:The decline in snow cover may accelerate glacier melting, contributing to long-term environmental changes.
  • Drinking Water Supply:Scanty snowfall implies minimal groundwater recharge, posing challenges for the region's drinking water supply.
  1. Agriculture and Horticulture:
  • Impact on Winter Crops:Winter crops crucial for the local economy, especially horticulture, face a decline in yields due to the absence of steady moisture from winter snow.
  • Reduced Apple and Saffron Yields:Apples and saffron, vital components of the local economy, witness adverse effects on yields.

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