Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Waiting for more flooding in Pakistan

IRIN: All eyes are on the Kotri Barrage in southeastern Pakistan, the last on the River Indus before it flows into the Arabian Sea. Meteorologists expect more but moderate rainfall over the upper reaches of the river, but a scientist involved in managing the ecosystem in that part of the river is optimistic.

About 1.5 million people live along the last 120 km stretch of the Indus from the Kotri Barrage in southern Sindh Province to where its 13 outlets empty their water into the sea, said Mohammed Tahir Qureshi, senior advisor on coastal ecosystems at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Pakistan.

Storage dams and barrages have been built on the Indus River, and a complex network of canals channels the water to about 30 million acres of agricultural land, according to the IUCN. Unlike other barrages on the river, where the flow has begun to level off and even ebb, the water at the Kotri Barrage has risen to an alarming level.

The Indus usually flows through the Kotri Barrage at a speed of about 2,841 cubic metres per second on the last leg of its journey to the sea; it is currently flowing at more than 25,485 cubic metres per second - at least 10 times its normal flow rate. "We are concerned whether the barrage will be able to withstand the tremendous flow of the water," said Prof Qamar-Uz-Zaman Chaudhry, head of the Pakistan Meteorological Department and a member of the government's task force on climate change….

NASA image of Pakistan flooding, July 31, 2010

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