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HomeQatar TimesPakistan floods ‘fuelled’ by climate change: research

Pakistan floods ‘fuelled’ by climate change: research


Researchers are making quick assessments of the connections between global warming and weather disasters according to a developing field called attribution science.

Mid-June saw the onset of unusually high rain in Pakistan this year, and by late August, torrential downpours were deemed a national emergency. The southern portion of the Indus River, which runs the entire length of the country, has been transformed into a sizeable lake. 

Villages have transformed into islands, surrounded by expanses of polluted water. Over 1,500 people have passed away, and it is possible that it will take months for flood waters to recede.

Scientists in a report published on World Weather Attribution are saying that the downpours were made worse by global warming brought on by greenhouse-gas emissions.

According to the report, the experts have cited a rapidly expanding field of research that assesses the impact of climate change on particular extreme weather events shortly after they occur, while communities are still dealing with their life-altering consequences. 

Climate scientists are reportedly able to analyse how human-induced changes in the earth’s composition are affecting the severe weather with increasing accuracy and specificity as their methods advance, giving considerations to how countries should adapt additional weight and urgency.

In a recent spate of shocking weather extremes across the northern hemisphere, the floods in Pakistan are the deadliest yet. These extreme weather events include searing heat waves in India, Japan, California, Britain and Europe, as well as persistent droughts throughout the Horn of Africa, Mexico and China.

For many years now, experts have cautioned that if more heat-trapping gases are introduced into the atmosphere, some types of extreme weather are likely to occur more frequently and intensely.

More water evaporates from the oceans as the planet heats. More moisture is retained by air that is hotter. Consequently, storms that precede the South Asian monsoon might strike harder.

However, Pakistan’s heavy downpours have historically varied greatly from year to year, making it difficult to determine just how severe this season was due to climate change, according to the authors of the current study.

The researchers believe that climate change is a contributing element because the majority of their computer simulations showed that human-caused warming had amplified the rains to some degree.

Twenty six scientists working for the World Weather Attribution research programme, which specialises in quick analyses of extreme events, contributed to the study. 

The heat that scorched Pakistan and India last spring was 30 times more likely to occur this year, according to researchers with the organisation. The scientists discovered that the likelihood of July’s excessive heat in Britain was at least ten times higher. 

Studies on attribution attempt to connect the two independent but connected phenomenas of climate and weather.

On a global scale, climate change is what happens to the weather over extended periods of time. Since many places only have a century or less of direct weather records, scientists rely on computer simulations and ideas from physics and chemistry to fill the gaps in their knowledge on the changing climate. But even in the absence of human activity, the weather has always been unpredictable. 

Studies on attribution attempt to distinguish between this organic variability and the more significant changes being caused by emissions from fossil fuels.

Scientists assess the world as it is and the world as it might have been, had humans not spent decades spewing planet-warming chemicals into the atmosphere, using mathematical models to perform an attribution. Computer simulations are used to playback recent events dozens or even hundreds of times in both universes to determine how frequently particular occurrences occur in both. The variations also show how much global warming is likely at blame.

This comparison is frequently carried out by researchers utilising a large number of climate models to confirm the validity of their findings, as well as comparing the simulations to archives of previous occurrences in the real world.

The researchers of the study used two metrics to analyse this year’s flooding in Pakistan; the maximum 60 days of annual rainfall between June and September over the entire Indus River Basin, and the maximum five days of annual rainfall over the severely affected southern provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan.

They discovered that several of their models failed to faithfully replicate trends in Pakistan’s actual rainfall data. When asked how much more intense and likely this year’s rainfall had become with current levels of global warming, the models gave varying data.

But when a higher level of warming was taken into account, the models provided more precise responses. This provided the researchers the confidence to assert that, although they refrained from quantifying by how much, climate change had most likely made this year’s flooding worse.



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