Floods in Pakistan “aggravated by up to 50% by global warming”

Floods in Pakistan “aggravated by up to 50% by global warming”

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<p><figcaption class=Photograph: Shahzaib Akber / EPA

Scientists found that the heavy rains that caused devastating floods across Pakistan were exacerbated by global warming, which also made future floods more likely.

According to a study by an international team of climate scientists, climate change may have increased the heaviest rainfall by about 50% in a short time in the most affected areas.

Floods were a 100-year event, but similar events are likely to become more frequent in the future as global temperatures continue to rise, the scientists said.

Scientists were unable to quantify exactly how much more likely flooding was caused by the climate crisis, due to the high degree of natural variability of the monsoon in the region. However, they said there was a 1% chance that such heavy rainfall would occur each year, and an event like this summer’s floods would likely have been far less likely in a world without human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

Friederike Otto, senior lecturer at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London, said the “fingerprints” of global warming could be clearly seen in the floods in Pakistan, which were in line with what climate scientists had predicted for extreme weather conditions.

“We can say it with great certainty [the rainfall] it would have been less likely to happen without climate change, ”he said. “The intensity of the precipitation has increased a little.” Historical records have shown that heavy rains have increased dramatically in the region since humanity began pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the scientists found.

Otto added: “Our evidence suggests that climate change played an important role in the event, although our analysis does not allow us to quantify how large the role was. This is because it is a region with very different weather conditions from one year to the next, which makes it difficult to see long-term changes in observed data and climate models.

About a third of Pakistan has been affected by floods, with water covering more than a tenth of the country after more than three times the average rainfall in August. Nearly 1,500 people died and 33 million people were affected, with 1.7 million homes destroyed.

For the country as a whole, it was the wettest August since 1961, and for the two southern provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan the wettest on record, with rainfall seven to eight times more than usual.

Although increased rainfall was influenced by climate change, local factors also played a role in flooding and its impacts. For example, forests in the region have been cleared over many decades and mangrove swamps removed, while artificial dams, irrigation and other changes to waterways have also impacted natural flood patterns. Poor infrastructure, such as fragile-built homes in places prone to flooding, have also meant more people suffering from the floods.

Ayesha Siddiqi, assistant professor in the department of geography at the University of Cambridge, said: “[Flooding] it hit places where local socio-ecological systems were already quite compromised. This disaster was the result of a vulnerability built up over several years and should not be seen as the result of a single event. “

Pakistan faces a cost of at least $ 30 billion in damage, with the loss of food crops alone reaching approximately $ 2.3 billion, a particularly heavy burden at a time of rising food prices around the world. About 18,000 sq km of cultivated land was destroyed, including about 45% of the cotton crop, one of Pakistan’s main exports, and about 750,000 cattle were killed.

The flood report in Pakistan comes from World Weather Attribution, a group of scientists from around the world trying to discern the influence of man-made climate change on extreme weather events. They analyze such events in real time to produce quick answers as to whether climate change affected extreme weather conditions, a process that took years.

Previous studies found that climate change exacerbated heatwaves in India, Pakistan and the UK earlier this year and floods in Brazil. WWA discovered last year that the heatwave in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States would have been “virtually impossible” without climate change.

A recent Guardian analysis revealed to what extent the climate crisis is “overloading” weather events, with devastating consequences.

Otto said countries that will gather this November for the COP27 UN climate conference in Egypt should take note of the extreme climate the world has seen this year and in recent years. “The lesson is that this will become more likely, probably much more likely. Becoming more resilient is very important ”.

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