Shifting rain patterns: Implications for Pakistan | By Quratul ain bilal

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Shifting rain patterns: Implications for Pakistan

The increase in global temperature and spatiotemporal variations in precipitation patterns are the primary indicators of climate change.

Climate Change is having a catastrophic impact on world’s water resources as ice sheets are melting, sea levels are rising, heat waves are occurring more frequently, and rainfall patterns are changing as a result of global warming.

Unpredictable trends in rainfall patterns along Pakistan’s coastal areas and arid plains have also been observed.

In past, the whole of Sindh, most of Balochistan, major parts of Punjab and central parts of Northern Areas used to receive less than 250 mm of rainfall in a year but now in 2022 the situation is opposite.

In recent floods, Sindh and Balochistan are declared as victims of unusual heavy rains. Balochistan has experienced such heavy rains first time ever due to shifting monsoon patterns and same is the case with Sindh where rains and standing water has damaged the infrastructure.

Surprisingly Punjab AJK and parts of KP are least effected, which is the result of spatial shift in rain patterns .

The entire monsoon pattern in Pakistan has moved 100 kilometres to the west as a result of climate change .

The country’s climate zones, particularly those in the north, northwest, west, and coastal regions, have demonstrated a generally changing rainfall pattern.

Pakistan has monsoon rains in the summer, while the western depression brings precipitation in the winter .

According to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), about 1 million people have been affected by floods since mid-June 2022.

According to determined and established norms, Sindh typically receives 109.5mm of rain during the monsoon. It is therefore 522pc greater than average.

Similar to Balochistan, which typically receives 50mm of rain per monsoon, this year’s total is 284mm, or 469pc more.

Overall, this monsoon has resulted in 207 times more rainfall over the nation.This year, the scenario appeared to be similar in other regions of the nation as well.

According to Met Office data, Gilgit-Baltistan has received 50.3mm of rain in just two months, which is 99 percent over average, and Punjab has received 349mm, which is exactly 90 percent more rain than its typical monsoon rainfall.

This monsoon, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa saw rain fall at a rate that was 31% over average; there have been 257.4mm of rain so far.

The only area of the nation that has had below-average rainfall this monsoon is Azad Jammu & Kashmir.

The valley has recorded 279.6mm rain, which is minus 7pc lesser than its normal monsoon downpour, therefore the situation clearly indicates shifting rain patterns which is quite alarming .

Pakistan’s Met department and administration could not comprehend the phenomenon of change in rain patterns, therefore did not prepare accordingly.

Shift in rain pattern has adversely effected catchment area of Mangla Dam, thereby creating water shortage in our Eastern River (Jehlum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej).

Damage in KP is though caused by excessive rain due to change in monsoon pattern, yet it is felt that destruction is more due to violation of laws related to construction of buildings along river banks and destruction of Munda Dam in Swat.

Swat and Kabul River when joined at Attock increased water in the Indus River, which enhanced flooding in the Sindh Province.

This water when combined with adverse flood situation in Sindh due to excessive rains and weak management of Manchar Lake drainage System, created devastated effects.

Damage in Balochistan province could have been avoided if money allocated for construction of small dams could have been spent religiously on the given projects.

Similarly in Sindh, devastation could have been reduced if drainage system like LBOD could have been made functional before the onset of monsoon season.

More water reservoirs are now essential to be constructed on Indus/ Kabul / Swat Rivers (KalaBagh Dam), so that the same water can be shifted to Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej more effectively through link canals.

Changes in rainfall patterns have a significant impact on Pakistan’s dependency on freshwater resources; yet, the nation is to blame for its own ineffective water management.

Pakistan’s overall dam capacity is 27.81 km, significantly less than the country’s requirements, and the current economic climate has delayed the development of large dam projects.

Smaller dams are becoming more and more popular around the world, and since they can be built anywhere at a manageable cost and with a more compact structure and reservoir, they can be a practical answer to Pakistan’s flood or storm water management problems.

Additionally, it is essential to mainstream the development of the public and government officials’ capacity to anticipate, adjust to, and reduce the hazards associated with change in monsoon patterns.

Enhance the infrastructure to collect rainwater, isolate it from sewage systems, recycle it, and reuse it.

This can lessen the harm brought on by changing rainfall patterns and the subsequent flooding or lack of water.

The Sponge City Project in Wuhan, China, is a superb illustration of how rainfall can be retained for the city’s own benefit rather than being channelled away.

Pakistan must establish research facilities devoted to advancing our understanding of climate change induced changing rain patterns.

In nutshell adequate weather forecasting methods, pre- and post-monsoon preparations, and the execution of the Climate Change Act 2017 are necessary to lessen the harm caused by the monsoon season in Pakistan.

Due to changing trends in rainfall patterns and the need to strengthen the six-step cycle of community resilience (preparation, response, recovery, assessment, planning, and prevention), Pakistan must develop contemporary strategies for monsoon risk mitigation and a new method of managing climate-induced disasters. In addition, assuming responsibility is essential for a successful future.

—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.

 

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