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September 18, 2011



Expert says climate change caused flooding in Sindh

A leading Pakistani weather and climate scientist has blamed climate change for the unprecedented torrential monsoon rains in Sindh that have caused severe flooding in 20 districts of the province.
The recent floods affected 5.36 million people, damaged about 1.19 million houses and killed 233 people.
“Rains in Sindh are the highest ever recorded monsoon rains during the four weeks’ period. Sindh this year received 270 percent and 1,170 percent above-normal monsoon rains, respectively in August and September,” he said, adding that in just four weeks, the otherwise dry, arid region received rainfall which was close to what it got normally in five years.
“Though sometimes it is difficult to relate extreme weather events to climate change, if we look at the frequency and the trend of the extreme weather events happening in Pakistan during the last two decades, it is easy to find its connection with climate change,” said Dr Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, Adviser Climate Affairs and Vice-President of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Asia Region, on Thursday.
He, however, added that it was still difficult to explain floods in Sindh under natural climate variability.
According to him, the pattern of recent extreme weather events in Pakistan clearly indicates increased frequency and intensity of such events, which are in line with the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate change projections.
Dr Chaudhry, who is also the lead author and architect of the country’s first Draft National Climate Change Policy, said that Pakistan was heading for increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including frequent floods and droughts.
“We need to adapt and plan for that,” he said and added that the formulation of the Draft National Climate Change Policy is the first right step in this direction.
He maintained that Pakistan needed to seek assistance from the recently-established Green Climate Fund

for implementing climate change measures.
“The fund was started with 35 billion dollars and by 2020 it would reach 100 billion dollars. The fund has been created by the developed countries to compensate the losses to developing countries due to climate change,” he added.
Before the start of these rains in the second week of August, Sindh was facing severe drought conditions and it had not received any rainfall during the past 12 months, he said.
The last severe river flooding in 2010 and rainfall-flooding in Sindh occurred in July 2003, he said and added, but this time the devastating rains of 1300 mm in Mithi; Mirpurkhas, 866 mm; Diplo, 779 mm; Chachro, 735 mm; Nagarparker, 990 mm; Nawabshah, 650 mm; Badin, 643 mm; Chhor, 549 mm; Padidan, 423 mm; Dadu, 482mm; Hyderabad, 402 mm; during the four weeks period have created an unprecedented flood situation in Sindh.
According to Dr Chaudhry, the total volume of water falling over Sindh during the four weeks is estimated to be above 49 million acre-feet (MAF), equal to six times the total capacity of Tarbela Dams, the world largest earth-filled dam, which is hard to believe.
He said the rainfall was predicted well in advance by the Met and the disaster management agencies were also well prepared. “But with the scale of this natural calamity, combined with the topography of the area having very poor natural drainage, most of the water stagnates and multiple breaches in LBOD (Left Bank Outfall Drain) for saline water and irrigation channels further complicated the scale of flooding”.
Dr Chaudhry said that it was also projected that in Pakistan, climate change would be causing considerable increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, coupled with erratic monsoon rains causing frequent flooding and droughts, and increased temperature would result in enhanced heat and water stress conditions, particularly in the arid and semi-arid regions.