Study says climate change likely exacerbated deadly Pakistan floods

An international team of climate scientists in He said rainfall in the worst affected areas had increased by 75 per cent in recent decades and concluded that man-made activity had boosted record levels of August rainfall in Sindh and Balochistan provinces.
The resulting flood affected more than 33 million people, destroyed 1.7 million homes and killed nearly 1,400 people.

To determine the role global warming plays in precipitation, scientists analyzed weather data and computer simulations of today’s climate to determine the likelihood of such an event occurring at about 1.2 degrees Celsius of warming caused by human activity since the industrial age.

They then compared this possibility to data and simulations of conditions in the past’s climate – 1.2 degrees Celsius cooler than today.
They found that climate change likely increased five-day rainfall in Sindh and Balochistan by up to 50 percent.

The analysis showed that there is about a 1% chance of such an event occurring in any given year in our current climate conditions.

“It is likely that the same event would be less likely in a world without human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, which means that climate change is more likely to make heavy rainfall more likely,” the team said.
However, the study authors stressed that due to the large differences in monsoon precipitation over historically Pakistan, it was not possible to conclude that man-made warming contributed significantly to the total 60-day precipitation levels.
“What we’ve seen in Pakistan is exactly what climate projections have been predicting for years,” said Frederic Otto, senior lecturer in climate sciences at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.

It is also in line with historical records showing that heavy rainfall has increased dramatically in the region since humans began releasing large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Floods in Pakistan affected more than 33 million people, destroyed 1.7 million homes and killed nearly 1,400 people. source: GT / (Photo by Hussain Ali/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Funding needed

Otto said that while it has been difficult to put an exact figure on how much man-made emissions will affect precipitation, “the fingerprints of global warming are clear.”

The World Meteorological Organization said this week that weather-related disasters such as those in Pakistan have increased fivefold over the past 50 years, killing an average of 115 people each day.

The warning came as countries prepare for the COP27 climate summit in Egypt in November, where countries at risk are demanding that rich historical polluters compensate them for the losses caused by climate change and the damage already being done to their economies and infrastructure.
Fahad Saeed, a researcher at the Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Islamabad, said the floods demonstrated the need for rich countries to radically increase financing to help others adapt to climate change – another key question at COP27.

“Pakistan should also ask developed countries to take responsibility and provide adaptation support as well as losses and damages to countries and peoples who bear the brunt of climate change,” he said.

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