ChapterPDF Available

Impact of climate change on wetlands, concerning Son Beel, the largest wetland of North East, India



Wetlands are the ecotone with rich ground for the aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna. Wetlands are considered to be a natural ecosystem solution to extreme climate change. Climate resilience reflects as one of the prominent regulating services of wetlands. These are the unique ecosystems providing the unique services to the mankind. Water and its quality are the main factors for regulating the environment of wetlands. Unfortunately, wetlands like any other ecosystems are facing the threat from the increasing population and pollution. Over one such factor responsible for the deterioration is the impact of climate change. The changing climate due to the rise in the greenhouse gases particularly carbon dioxide has also impacted the functioning of the wetlands. Coastal wetlands likewise mangroves are the meeting points of fresh and marine aquatic environment. We know the water bodies around the globe are the worst-hit areas due to climate change and wetlands are no exception to this. On the other hand, the droughts affect the water level of these wetlands leading to their shrinkage and in turn the biodiversity of wetland ecosystem are the worst hit. The wetland ecosystem is significant for various functions such as food storage, water resource, pollution abatement, and the aquatic life, etc. It provides habitat for different species of flora and fauna along with various ecosystem services like environmental protection, pollution mitigation, and protection from cyclones, floods as well as local community livelihood. As the condition of wetland ecosystem of any particular region can give a glimpse of its conservation and management trend. Thus, the significance of the wetlands has been explained through one of the case studies from northeastern part of India. This case study highlights the understanding of climate change aspects related to the lake “Son Beel, wetland, the most significant wetland of Assam in particular and North East India in general with a great potential as Ramsar site designation for its great resource value and by ecosystem services. Son Beel offers a diversity of ecosystem services, which can be directly interlinked with the livelihood. Son Beel wetland is an essential natural infrastructure of disaster risk reduction offering flood mitigation and ensuring water security by recharging under-ground water Communities” access benefits in various ways viz. water, erosion check system, potable water, waste management, climate change policy, and Disaster Risk Reduction. Local inhabitants and communities have deep sacred beliefs in Son Beel because it protects them from the terrible risk of frequent floods and drought every year. People access nonmaterial benefits by spiritual, cognitive developmental, reflectional, recreational, and esthetic values. There is a need to ensure that wetland conservation, judicious use, and restoration are an integral part of sustainable development goals (SDGs) planning and implementation. Integrating wetlands services and benefits in Nationally Determined Contributions for the Paris Agreement on Climate change is critical for achieving SDGs. Rise in population, growing unplanned settlements, low rainfall; unsustainable agricultural practices are the primary cause of this wetland decline. This chapter highlights the significance of wetlands, factors responsible for their degradation with major focus on the climate change as one significant factor, and recommendations.
Impact of climate change on
wetlands, concerning Son Beel,
the largest wetland of North East,
Moharana Choudhury
, Anu Sharma
, Pardeep Singh
, Deepak Kumar
Voice of Environment (VoE), Guwahati, Assam, India;
Department of Environmental
Science, Government Degree College Bhaderwah, University of Jammu, Jammu, India;
Department of Environmental Studies, PGDAV College University of Delhi, New Delhi,
United Nation Developmental Program (UNDP), New Delhi, India
1. Introduction
Water is a vital source of life for the planet Earth, not only to perform the necessary
metabolic cycle but also to run and regulate all the functions of day-to-day life. Stable
economic growth and development for every nation or country are powered by water,
as its availability impacts agriculture, manufacturing, environment, sustainable devel-
opment, etc. The availability of water directly linked to the amount of precipitation,
which is well-taken care by the hydrological cycle. The changing climate followed
by enhanced levels of temperature leads to disturbance in this cycle. The observation
of the worlds wetland day on February 2 every year highlights the signicance of wet-
lands as ecosystems. This observance began in 1971 when the Ramsar convention was
convened at Ramsar in Iran. Wetlands play a substantial role in pollution control and
detoxication. Because of their exceptional performance as the lters, the absorption
of pesticides and chemicals, and removing harmful waste from the water, they are
given the Earths kidneysstatus. Nature plans its natural systems to enhance or
even replace historically gray infrastructure functionalities (WBCSD, 2017). Wetlands
cover around 6% of shares in the global surface they play a unique role in the biogeo-
chemical and water cycle. They are home to a large part of global biodiversityd
tremendous pressure on the ecosystem in the form of land reclamation, extreme exploi-
tation of the resources. Alteration in hydrology, pollution threats are accruing from
many sources on the wetlands on almost every continent.
Further stress to wetlands is expected by climate models, primarily due to changes
in hydrology, rising temperatures, and increasing sea level (Junk et al., 2013).
Twentieth-century climate data show that the United States is in a wetter, warmer
climate pattern. Even other climate forecasts indicate that over the next 100 years,
this phenomenon will continue and potentially worsen. Wetlands are likely to be
affected by the rising sea level trend because of elevated carbon dioxide levels.
Global Climate Change.
Copyright ©2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
... Instability increases due to several reasons like climate change, dam regulation, groundwater level lowering, water harvesting from rivers and wetlands, etc. (Pal and Paul 2021;Kundu et al. 2022). Hydrological fragility is responsible for deteriorating the aquatic habitat Choudhury et al. 2021). Lowering water availability in wetlands facilitates the conversion of wetlands into agricultural land in agriculture-dominated areas and built-up areas in urban-dominated areas (Islam et al. 2021;Kundu et al. 2021). ...
Full-text available
Flow modification pursuing dams is widely found. Some works also focused on its impact on floodplain wetland hydrology. However, how this change can pose an impact on habitat conditions, ecological conditions, and trophic state is also a matter of investigation. The very least attention has been paid to this so far. Therefore, the present study focused on these, taking the dam-induced Lower Tangon river basin of India and Bangladesh as a case. The degree of flow alteration in the river was presented in a heat map. Multi-parametric machine learning (ML) approaches were applied to model hydrological instability and habitat condition. The ecological consequences like evaluating eco-deficit using flow duration curve (FDC) approach, trophic state using trophic state index (TSI), fish habitat zone using image-based hydrological parameters, etc. were measured. The study exhibited that after damming, the degree of river flow modification was about 41%. Consequently, the wetland hydrological instability and habitat conditions were degraded. In the post-dam period, > 50% of wetland area was lost, and hydrological instability was enhanced considerably over wider parts of the wetland. Habitat conditions of the existing wetland also witnessed fragility (poor and very poor areas increased by about 22.23 and 9.34%). As a result of this, adverse ecological responses were found. For instance, the eco-deficit area was increased by 36.19%, a good proportion (100%) of wetlands was witnessed the transformation of TSI from oligotrophic to mesotrophic state, and optimum fish habitat area was declined. The ecological strength map integrating all the cause-effect model parameters showed that good ecological strength was reduced from 49 to 2% in the post-dam. The result of the study would be very useful for wetland restoration for ecological and human well-being.
... Flood plains are usually locations with rich fauna and flora biodiversity. However, they are highly vulnerable to changes in the use of water and climate change [2]. Sedimentary basins store a significant amount of water and are also called wetlands. ...
... The Khajadiya Bird Sanctuary located in Gujarat have been converted to a picnic spot. Wetlands of Uttar Pradesh inhabited by the Sarus (State Bird of Uttar Pradesh) are threatened by increasing real estate encroachments (Choudhury et al., 2021). A drastic reduction in the number of wetlands has also been reported by this study. ...
Ecosystem services include conditions and processes that make up natural ecosystems and the species present therein. According to recent studies, wetland ecosystems provide the maximum service value per area by playing a significant role in regulating and purifying water supplies, controlling flood, acting as carbon-sinks, and sustaining human lives and livelihoods. Challenges like wetland loss and degradation, declining freshwater resources, and probable consequences of climate change have attracted significant scientific and public attention towards wetland conservation and restoration. Despite diligent conservation efforts, the global status of wetland security is still alarming. Long-term sustainable management and use of wetlands necessitate active public participation from all sectors. This study reviews the current status of different wetlands in India. It also provides a detailed discussion of different aspects of economic evaluation of ecosystem services, wetland restoration, and public participation for improving wetland policies and governance.
Full-text available
Wetland also known as "Jheelon" in Hindi language is one of the most important natural resources, contributing various economic and ecological benefits. The study gave a short review of the current status of Ramsar wetlands in India. The wildlife species, conservation measures, and their significance in Indian wetlands were also explored in this review paper. As of 2022, there are 49 Ramsar sites in India covering approximately 1,09363.6 km 2 of land. The largest Ramsar wetland is Sundarbans, while the smallest is Chandertal. It was found that preventing wetland loss is important even though studies about wetland degradation in various nations including India, caused directly by human activities is still limited. Since Monitoring and protecting natural wetlands, supporting scientific studies on preservation and restoration of wetlands, demand on imposing regulations for limiting pollutant discharges were recommended allowing researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to better maintain wetland and its ecosystem services.
Full-text available
Chandubi Wetland is facing a serious ecosystem marginalization where ecosystem services have not been priced and reflected in decision making and which proves a complete market failure. Agriculture yield from transformed/converted/encroached lake does not reflect values depleted due to flood protection, fisheries, biodiversity, etc. People who degrade are not the same whose livelihoods are affected leading to continued deterioration of wetland. Wetland governance has been ineffective in addressing sectoral policies providing incentives, thus leading to wetland deterioration. Chandubi Wetland has potentially abundant biodiversity of flora and fauna occupying some important medicinal herbs, forests, fishes, and others which we have aforementioned in the ecology of Chandubi Wetland. It is one of the potential ecotourism destinations and it gets the easily available logistic benefit of being near to the state capital Guwahati, Assam. It has been a challenge for us to evaluate a monetary figure for Chandubi Wetland. The valuation of ecosystem services nowadays is a pertinent tool not only to signify the importance of wetlands in human well‐being but also incorporates stakeholder engagement prioritizing nature's externalities when we exclude a significant role of the ecosystem in the process of valuation. Chandubi Wetland is one of the beautiful forms of nature's creation which had a seismic origin. So far, we have not many records of the valuation of wetland ecosystems in Assam. One of such rare papers likewise “Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Benefits of Son Beel Wetland in Assam, India: A Case Study of Natural Solutions to Climate Change and Water (Kumar et al. 2020)” is only available as a case study for us in the state of Assam, India. We conducted a comprehensive valuation study approach including GIS study, social, economic, and ecological study understanding abundant biodiversity in Chandubi Wetland during 2018–2020. This particular paper signifies the role of Chandubi Wetland in offering multiple ecosystem services that ensure climate security, water security, vulnerability reduction against water‐related disaster risks, etc. Economic valuation in India is in a state of brainchild and it's been emerging spontaneously when wetlands ecosystem services are being recognized globally as an important resilient infrastructure of climate change and disaster risk reduction. Governments are considering wetlands as an indirect and direct source of potable drinking water.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Son Beel wetland is facing ecosystem marginalization where ecosystem services aren’t being priced & reflected in decision making which proves complete market failure. Agricultural produce from converted lake does not reflect values lost due to flood protection, fisheries, biodiversity etc. People who deteriorate are not the same whose livelihoods are affected leading to continued degradation of the wetland. Wetlands governance has so far been failing to address sectoral policies providing incentives leads to wetlands depletion. Son Beel is the home to diversity of fishes in particular to an important habitat for small & tinny fishes. There are about 500 families engaged in the net building & designing and these fisher folk communities are linked this wetland to local market networks. It has been estimated by state government report and records that there are more than 35,000 families directly dependent on the Beel for traditional fishing system. Evergreen Forest comprises 40% peripheral area of the Beel. Son Beel is an important habitat for some reptiles and other various aquatic species. This wetland is home for migrant Siberian birds for 3 months every year. Son Beel is abundantly rich in fish biodiversity and around 69 different fish species are found among which small fishes are the most (D.Kar et. al, 2006). The economic value is the monetary value of goods & services offered by wetlands in which people’s preferences are expressed through choices & trade-offs. Total Economic Value (TEV) is the sum of the values of all wetland ecosystem services flows from providers to beneficiaries over the given spatial & temporal scales. Economic valuation is a powerful tool since it provides means to measure & quantify trade-offs between multiple wetland uses (Barbier et al., 1997) via monetary matrices. Valuation of wetland ecosystem in India has some major gaps likewise; the confusion of terminologies between intermediate & final ecosystem services, has led to double-counting that can inflate values that can seriously impact the credibility of economic valuation. (Johnston & Russel, 2011). The gap of methodological challenges in linking ecosystem characteristics to final ecosystem services is a serious constraint to current valuation process. Lack of clear guidance on relating ecological compensation programmes to conservation targets is a major loophole in ecosystem valuation in India. We tried the best to mitigate these gaps in the ecosystem valuation of Son Beel Wetland. Major aim & objective of our valuation is to provide useful information inputs to the wetland governance to sustain wetland for multiple benefits. Development of ecological production functions & non market valuation methods need ecological & social data which is currently unavailable in India. We shall produce this paper before the State Government of Assam to take adequate measures in protection & conservation of wetlands. We estimated monetary value of Son Beel is from a minimum of $88/Hectare/year to maximum of $29,716/Hectare/Year. Son Beel provides a wide range of natural capital flow in terms ecosystem services for the life & livelihood of people & community. We need to ensure that wetland conservation, wise use & restoration are an integral part to SDGs planning & implementation. Integrating wetlands services & benefits in Nationally Determined Contributions for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is critical for achieving SDGs. Placing a value on nature’s ecosystem services shouldn’t be misconstrued as ‘putting a price on nature. The authors will strongly recommend the site should declare as Ramsar site of Wetland or such constructive steps should take by the authorities for its better conservation.
Full-text available
Wetlands cover at least 6 % of the Earth’s surface. They play a key role in hydrological and biogeochemical cycles, harbour a large part of the world’s biodiversity, and provide multiple services to humankind. However, pressure in the form of land reclamation, intense resource exploitation, changes in hydrology, and pollution threaten wetlands on all continents. Depending on the region, 30–90 % of the world’s wetlands have already been destroyed or strongly modified in many countries with no sign of abatement. Climate change scenarios predict additional stresses on wetlands, mainly because of changes in hydrology, temperature increases, and a rise in sea level. Yet, intact wetlands play a key role as buffers in the hydrological cycle and as sinks for organic carbon, counteracting the effects of the increase in atmospheric CO2. Eight chapters comprising this volume of Aquatic Sciences analyze the current ecological situation and the use of the wetlands in major regions of the world in the context of global climate change. This final chapter provides a synthesis of the findings and recommendations for the sustainable use and protection of these important ecosystems.
Full-text available
During the AD 1990s the Waubay Lakes complex in eastern South Dakota experienced historically unprecedented high water levels. Property damage from this flooding led to an examination of the occurrence of past pluvial episodes and their relation to climate. A 1000-year hydroclimate reconstruction was developed from local bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) tree-ring records and lake-sediment cores. Analysis of lake shoreline and drainage features provides late-Quaternary geomorphic context for this high-resolution record. Tree-ring width and shell geochemistry of the ostracode Candona rawsoni show marked coherence, indicating synchronous responses to moisture balance in vegetation and lake salinity; geomorphic evidence suggests buffering of lake-system expansion during pluvial periods by evaporative dynamics. Pluvial periods display a recurrence frequency of approximately 140-160 years over the past millennium. Prior to AD 1800, both lake highstands and droughts tended towards greater persistence than during the past two centuries. Frequency and timing of hydroclimatic oscillations show strong similarities to records from other sites in the Northern Great Plains (NGP) of North and South Dakota, and incomplete coherence with records of southern Manitoba.
Full-text available
Wetland ecosystems provide an optimum natural environment for the sequestration and long-term storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, yet are natural sources of greenhouse gases emissions, especially methane. We illustrate that most wetlands, when carbon sequestration is compared to methane emissions, do not have 25 times more CO2 sequestration than methane emissions; therefore, to many landscape managers and non specialists, most wetlands would be considered by some to be sources of climate warming or net radiative forcing. We show by dynamic modeling of carbon flux results from seven detailed studies by us of temperate and tropical wetlands and from 14 other wetland studies by others that methane emissions become unimportant within 300 years compared to carbon sequestration in wetlands. Within that time frame or less, most wetlands become both net carbon and radiative sinks. Furthermore, we estimate that the world’s wetlands, despite being only about 5–8 % of the terrestrial landscape, may currently be net carbon sinks of about 830 Tg/year of carbon with an average of 118 g-C m−2 year−1 of net carbon retention. Most of that carbon retention occurs in tropical/subtropical wetlands. We demonstrate that almost all wetlands are net radiative sinks when balancing carbon sequestration and methane emissions and conclude that wetlands can be created and restored to provide C sequestration and other ecosystem services without great concern of creating net radiative sources on the climate due to methane emissions.
All vegetation change can be reduced to one of three basic phenomena, succession, maturation, and fluctuation, or some combination of these. Each of these phenomena is a result of a change in some attribute of one or more of the plant populations comprising the vegetation of an area. Succession ocurs when different populations are present from time to time. Maturation is an increase in the biomass of an area which is the result of a change in the age/size structure of the populations with time. Fluctuations result from changes in the number of individuals or ramets in the populations of an area from year to year. The contribution of succession, maturation, and fluctuation to the vegetation dynamics of Eagle Lake, a prairie glacial marsh in Iowa, is examined. In those areas where changing water levels and extensive musk-rat damage occur, succession is the most important phenomenon. A knowledge of the life-history characteristics of each species, particularly its establishment requirements, the presence or absence of its seeds in the seed bank, and its life-span, enables successional sequences to be predicted in this marsh. There are short periods where maturation is the major phenomenon causing vegetation change. Fluctuations also occur both in the emergent vegetation and the submerged vegetation.
In this article, the authors discuss current understanding and projections of global warming; review wetland vegetation dynamics to establish the strong relationship among climate, wetland hydrology, vegetation patterns and waterfowl habitat; discuss the potential effects of a greenhouse warming on these relationships; and illustrate the potential effects of climate change on wetland habitat by using a simulation model.
The vulnerability of wetlands to changes in climate depends on their position within hydrologic landscapes. Hydrologic landscapes are defined by the flow characteristics of ground water and surface water and by the interaction of atmospheric water, surface water, and ground water for any given locality or region. Six general hydrologic landscapes are defined; mountainous, plateau and high plain, broad basins of interior drainage, riverine, flat coastal, and hummocky glacial and dune. Assessment of these landscapes indicate that the vulnerability of all wetlands to climate change fall between two extremes: those dependent primarily on precipitation for their water supply are highly vulnerable, and those dependent primarily on discharge from regional ground water flow systems are the least vulnerable, because of the great buffering capacity of large ground water flow systems to climate change.