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Expert links Sindh rains with climate change

September 09, 2011

KARACHI, Sept 9: Unprecedented torrential monsoon rains lashing Sindh and causing flash flooding in 16 districts of the province have a direct linkage with global climate change, says a climate expert.

Responding to Dawn queries, Federal Advisor on Climate Affairs Dr Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry said that the volume of total water fallen over Sindh during the four weeks period is estimated to be over 37 million acres feet.

The pattern of extreme weather events in Pakistan in the recent past has shown a clear indication of increased frequency and intensity of such events in Pakistan, in line with international climate change projections, he stated.

Dr Qamar, who is associated with the formulation of the country’s first draft National Climate Change Policy, explained that rains in Sindh during the four-week period are the highest-ever recorded monsoon rains.

Before the start of these rains in the second week of August 2011, Sindh was under severe drought conditions and did not receive any rainfall in the previous 12 months, he explained.

A previous severe rainfall, which led to flooding in the province, had occurred in July 2003.

But this time devastative rains of over 1,150mm in Mithi; Mirpurkhas (676mm); Diplo (779mm); Chhachhro (735mm); Nagar Parkar (792mm); Nawabshah (547mm); Badin (512mm); Chhor (456mm); Padidan (318mm); Hyderabad (249mm), etc., have created unparallel flooding in Sindh.

The area might not have seen rains of such a magnitude in recent years.

The rainfall, he said, was predicted well in advance by the meteorological offices, and the disaster management agencies were also well-prepared, but owing to the scale of this natural calamity (combined with the topography of the area having very poor natural drainage), most water stagnated and breaches in Left-Bank Outfall Drain and irrigation channels further complicated the scale of flooding.

He said that weathermen had been warning that climate change would cause a considerable increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, coupled with erratic monsoon rains, causing floods and droughts. Moreover, a further increase in temperature may result in enhanced heat and water stress conditions, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions.

Dr Qamar said it is very difficult to link any single weather event to a climate change, if we look at the frequency and trend of extreme weather events impacting Pakistan, it would be easy to find its linkage with climate change.

He said that the pattern of extreme weather events in Pakistan in the recent past is showing a clear indication of increased frequency and intensity of such events in Pakistan which are in line with international climate change projections.

The climate change has become a reality for Pakistan, he stressed.

The climate expert said clearly Pakistan is heading for an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events which included frequent floods and droughts, and the need of the hour is to plan for the future changes.

He said that the government had already taken first step in that direction as draft national climate change policy was being formulated.