KARACH: The climate summaries released by Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) over the past two months indicate dangerous trends that may lead to serious shortages of water and food commodities in the country and cause a further spike in inflation, experts warned on Thursday.

According to the PMD data, national rainfall was 62 to 74 per cent less than normal over the past two months with March and April 2022 the warmest ever in six decades.

The data shows that Sindh saw March 2022 rainfall largely below normal along with all parts of the country with Balochistan (-66%), Sindh (-65%), Punjab (-65%), KP (-66%) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (-48%). All the places experienced extreme deficient rainfall.

“April 2022 rainfall remained largely below normal over all parts of the country with Punjab (-89%), KP (-79%), Balochistan (-78%), AJK (-56%) & GB (-51%) all experienced extreme deficient rainfall,” says the PMD climate summary of April month.

Intense heatwave forecast in Sindh for third week of May

“I think we are not administratively prepared to handle acute water stress and growing food insecurity being created as a result of this major shift in weather patterns,” shared senior ecologist Rafiul Haq, adding that the agriculture sector had already been hit by this shock.

Being an agro-based economy, Pakistan, he said, needed interventions at the grassroots level to build climate resilience.

According to the PMD data, the wettest day of the country in April was 21st when Larkana district in Sindh saw hailstorm for the first time ever in its history in April and recorded 38mm of rainfall.

“The national mean monthly temperature of April 2022 for Pakistan as a whole was 28.36°C, being 4.05°C warmer than monthly-average. It is now the ever warmest April since 1961. The last record was 27.43°C in 2010,” the data says.

The hottest day/night temperature records were broken in a number of cities in April. These cities are: Kalat, Karachi, Quetta, Chilas, Gilgit, Dera Ismail Khan, Jacobabad, Zhob, Balakot, Gupis valley (Gilgit) and Larkana.

In March, according to the data, highest maximum temperature records were broken in Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Balakot, Barkhan, Chilas, Dir, Faisalabad, Gilgit, Gupis valley, Islamabad, Kakul, Kalat, Karachi, Khanpur, Khuzdar, Multan, Murree, Muzaffarabad, Quetta, Rahim Yar Khan, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sibbi and Zhob.

“Apart from the regional factors, such as the formation of a high pressure system, one major phenomenon that led to sizzling weather over the past two months has been La Niña conditions, still prevailing in the Pacific Ocean,” explained Dr Sardar Sarfaraz, adding that deviation from normal weather patterns in most districts in the months of March and April was significant.

Strong heatwave coming

He predicted that a strong heatwave would hit central and upper parts of Sindh by May 7-8 and gradually take over Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by May 17-18. This episode is likely to be followed by rainfall.

“But, this all depends on other factors as well and the weather situation may change,” he said.

Global Climate Risk Index

According to the 2020 report of the Global Climate Risk Index, Pakistan is the fifth country most highly vulnerable to global warming and climate change. Many studies suggested that temperature increase would shift Pakistan’s cropping seasons and could “potentially permanently eliminate” the viability of growing some crops.

They also indicated that extreme weather events would have serious short and long term adverse effects as they contributed to poverty and malnutrition, food insecurity, stress on water resources, lower nutritional quality of major cereals and livestock productivity, force migration and boost viral outbreaks in both human and animal population. Vulnerability of crops to pest attacks also increased.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2022

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