Pakistan ravaged by climate change

Pakistan ravaged by climate change

For Pakistan, 2022 could remain the year of all climatic disasters. First, there were infernal heat in the spring, reaching 50 degrees in some localities in May and aggravating the melting of the glaciers in the high mountains and the drought in the plains; then, since the early onset of the monsoon in mid-June, torrential rains, combined with floods, submerged a third of the country.

That “exceeds any limit, any standard observed in the past”, alerted, on August 29, in an interview with AFP, the Minister of Climate Change, Sherry Rehman – including the floods of 2010, which claimed 2,000 victims. The current toll, which is worsening hour by hour, is very provisional due to the difficulty for relief workers to reach villages located in remote mountainous regions and cut off from the rest of the country by the destruction of roads or bridges, carried away by the waves.

“We are used to the monsoon every year, but have never seen anything like it”recalled the Minister. “Eight weeks of constant showers” which hit hardest in regions already heavily affected by the high spring temperatures.

Lahore

Larkana

Faisalabad

China

Afghanistan

Iran

Pakistan

India

Turkmenistan

Uzbekistan

Former Territories
federal tribal

Azad
Cashmere

Sind

Gilgit-Baltistan

Punjab

Balochistan

Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa

Glacier
from Siachen

K2, 8,611m

Glacier
by Shisper

Sea
from Arabia

Nok Kundi, 47.5°C
June 27

Nawabshah, 50.5°C
May 14

Jacobabad, 51°C
May 14

Jhelum, 47°C
April 14

Multan

Hyderabad

Bahawalpur

Mirput Khas

Islamabad

rawalpindi

Said

Gujranwala

Peshawar

Quetta

Shaman

Turbat

Karachi

Sukkur

Gwadar

Between March and June, unprecedented heat waves

Maximum temperatures in May

Peak temperature recorded during the spring

Glacier whose melting is accelerated by high temperatures

Since July, the heat has been combined with torrential rains

Flood of the rivers, August 29

average level

high level

Dam in critical condition as of August 26

Other dam

Since August 1, heavily populated areas have been flooded

Flooded area between 1er and August 29

Area with high population density

This disaster affects the majority of the country

District classified in a state of calamity

Other flood-affected district

During this period, both Pakistan and northwestern India recorded temperatures of 6 to 9 ° C above seasonal norms, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Service.

The monsoon started in June, earlier than expected. July 2022 was the wettest month in over sixty years (1961).

Balance sheet at 1er September 2022

  • 33 million Pakistanis affected, or one in seven
  • 1,208 dead confirmed
  • 50 millions displaced
  • 1.2 million houses damaged or destroyed
  • More 730,000 head of cattle and 1.8 million hectares of agricultural land lost

Map made with the help of Jean Luc Racinegeographer and research director emeritus at the CNRS, and Magali Reghezza-Zittgeographer, lecturer at the Center for training on the environment and society (Ceres)/ENS

Sources: Copernicus; European Commission ; National Disaster Management Authority of Pakistan; Unosat; Pakistan Meteorological Department; Unocha

Pakistan is particularly vulnerable to climate change. It is in eighth position among the countries most affected by extreme weather events, according to a study by the NGO Germanwatch published in 2021. Its population, weakened by poverty and growing inequalities, is particularly exposed to climatic hazards. And the public authorities, bogged down in repeated political crises, have not yet managed to put in place effective prevention and risk management strategies. Pushed to the limits of its ability to adapt by climate change, Pakistan may take time to recover from this new disaster.

La Nina

The cold equivalent of the phenomenon El Nino causes a cooling of part of the surface waters of the Pacific, influencing the cycle of precipitation and the climate of certain regions of the globe. While its usual duration is two years, the conditions of La Nina persist for the third consecutive year.

Monsoon

This classic seasonal phenomenon (from July to November) is due to the inversion of the trade winds which, laden with humidity, collide with the barrier of the Himalayas. These heavy rains traditionally punctuate agriculture in the region.

Drought

The country suffered a severe drought with below-normal rainfall between October 2020 and May 2021 (–36.1%), and between January and April 2022 (–21.6%). The soils no longer absorb the strong and abundant rains.

Soil artificialization

With more than 200 million inhabitants and a population growth rate of 2.4% per year, urbanization is accelerating. Towns sometimes develop in flood-prone areas, rivers are modified and their approaches are concreted. The artificialization of the soil reinforces the phenomenon of runoff.

floods

Pakistan is particularly vulnerable to flooding. In 2010, already, these had caused the death of 2,000 people and caused damage to the tune of 40 billion dollars. Since then, these violent phenomena have become more frequent.

Glacier thaw

With rising temperatures, glaciers are melting and feeding the flow of rivers. High altitude glacial lakes fracture and suddenly release huge amounts of water. Thirty lakes threaten more than 7 million people.

Habitat vulnerability

In precarious housing areas, sanitation systems are often faulty. With the heavy rains, the unsuitable infrastructures do not hold and cause new floods.

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