Global warming and anthropogenic factors have worsened flooding in Pakistan: study | Floods News

Human-caused climate change likely contributed to deadly flooding in Pakistan recently, experts say in a new scientific analysis that looked at just how much global warming was to blame.

The World Weather Attribution, a collection of mostly volunteer scientists around the world who study extreme weather in real time, released its report on Thursday.

The study indicates that global warming is not the main cause of the catastrophic floods which at one point submerged a third of the country, affecting 33 million people, killing more than 1,500 people so far and destroying more than a million houses.

“The same event would likely have been much less likely in a world without anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, meaning that climate change likely made extreme rainfall events more likely,” the study said.

“Human-induced climate change also plays a very important role here,” said the study’s lead author, Friederike Otto, a climatologist at Imperial College London.

“What we have seen in Pakistan is exactly what climate projections have predicted for years… This is also consistent with historical records showing that heavy rainfall has increased significantly in the region since humans began emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” she said. said.

Otto said that while it was difficult to quantify precisely how much anthropogenic emissions have driven rainfall, “the fingerprints of global warming are evident.”

The study found August rainfall in the worst-hit provinces of Sindh and Balochistan – together almost the size of Spain – was eight and nearly seven times normal amounts, while the country as a whole together had three and a half times its normal rainfall.

Scientists not only looked at records of past rains, which only date back to 1961, but they used computer simulations to compare what happened last month with what would have happened in a world without trapping gas. heat from burning coal, oil and natural resources. gases – and this difference is what they might attribute to climate change.

Study co-author Fahad Saeed, a climatologist at Climate Analytics and the Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, said many factors have made this monsoon season much wetter than normal, including La Nina, the natural cooling of part of the Pacific Ocean that alters the weather around the world.

But other factors had the signature of climate change, Saeed said. A bad heat wave in the region in early summer – which was made 30 times more likely due to climate change – increased the differential between land and water temperatures. This differential determines how much moisture goes from the ocean to the monsoon and means there is more.

“This disaster is the result of a vulnerability that has built up over many, many years,” said study team member Ayesha Siddiqi, from the University of Cambridge.

Muhammad Irfan Tariq, an Islamabad-based climate expert, told Al Jazeera that the World Weather Attribution report is an attempt to “understand the links between climate change and the type of development paradigm being pursued”.

Tariq, who is also a member of a working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations body, said natural disasters will become more frequent and extreme as the crisis climate intensifies.

“We also reported this earlier and you just have to look at the events that unfolded this year in Pakistan. We’ve had heat waves, we’ve had droughts, we’ve had extreme monsoons. The cycle is changing so much and so quickly that everything is now becoming a major disaster,” he told Al Jazeera.

The World Meteorological Organization said this week that weather-related disasters such as Pakistan’s had quintupled over the past 50 years, killing an average of 115 people a day.

The warning came as nations prepare for the COP27 climate summit in Egypt in November, where countries at risk are demanding that wealthy historic polluters compensate them for the climate-related losses and damage already plaguing their economies. and their infrastructure.

Study co-author Saeed said the floods showed the need for wealthy countries to dramatically increase funding to help others adapt to climate change – another key call from COP27.

“Pakistan should also call on developed countries to take responsibility and provide support for adaptation and loss and damage to countries and people most affected by climate change,” he said.

Teresa H. Sadler