Climate Change Floods in Pakistan 2022

Keywords: Climate change in Pakistan, glacial melting, riverine flooding, monsoon, Glacial lake outburst floods in Pakistan, floods in Pakistan’s history

Climate change in Pakistan is a threat to all of the region. Climate change and Urban development are causing a higher risk of riverine flooding in many regions across the globe. Rising temperature due to Greenhouse Gas emissions and heat waves results in the melting of frozen rivers and the world’s glaciers. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) summarised, that the increases in mean temperature and precipitation, rise in sea level and extreme weather events would make developing countries more exposed to disasters. However, these countries have a minimal carbon footprint. Unfortunately, due to poor infrastructures and poor economies the consequences are worst. IPCC categorised Pakistan as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.

Climate change in pakistan, flood 2022 Sindh
Figure 1: Flooded situation in Sindh Province, 1a: August 01, 2022; 1b: August 28, 2022 (NASA, 2022)
Manchar Lake satellite imagery | Floods in Pakistan
Figure 2: Outburst of Manchar Lake. 2a: June 25, 2022; 2b: September 05, 2022(NASA, 2022)

The year 2022 has proved very catastrophic to south Asian countries. May till June, the region received massive monsoon downpours leading to the worst glacial melting and riverine flooding in decades. In Pakistan, the worst flooding occurred along the Indus River in the provinces of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Sindh. The provinces Balochistan and Sindh have received five to six times their 30-year average rainfall.

Flood Damages for Pakistan

According to NDMA, the floods have affected more than 33 million people. It also destroyed or damaged more than 1 million houses. Flood water killed at least 1,100 people that inundated tens of thousands of square kilometers of the country. It also destroyed about 150 bridges and 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) of roads. More than 700,000 livestock and 2 million acres of crops and orchards have also been lost. The floods in Pakistan adversely affected Women in the rural areas. There are almost 650,000 pregnant women in the flood-affected areas, with almost 73,000 women. They expected to deliver in the next month. More than 1,000 health facilities are either partially or fully damaged in Sindh province. Figures 1 (a and b) represents the flooded satellite imageries of Sindh province. While the rising level of Manchar lake due to flood water can be observed in figure 2 (a and b).

Region-specific damages

The other main reason for Pakistan’s vulnerability is its geographical location. The country receives two major weather systems, one can rise temperature that results in drought. And The glacial melt while the other brings heavy monsoon. The effect of the monsoon rains has also been intensified by the continued melting of Pakistan’s 7,000 glaciers. The country holds the most glacial ice found outside the polar regions. Climate warming and recent heat waves have precipitated several glacial-outburst floods.

In the rugged northern part of the country, the combined rain and melt water have turned slopes into hill torrents. More than 3000 lakes have been created due to this. The heavy downpours of late spring and summer sent the Indus River out of its banks creating a humongous disaster. The majority of the country’s population resides along the River Indus. According to the United Nations out of these 3000 lakes, 33 are prone to hazardous glacial lake outburst floods.

Instead of human-induced global warming, there are certainly other factors that have probably been added to the devastation. It includes an ineffective early-warning system for floods, poor disaster management, political instability, and unregulated urban development. The lack of drainage and storage infrastructure and the large number of people living in flood zones are also implicated.

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