Monday, October 18, 2010

Did snow and glacier melt cause Pakistan's floods?

Nafees Muhammad in the Tribune (Pakistan): Who should we blame for the flood and its aftermath? Other than some government officials nobody thinks it was a natural catastrophe. It has been made to appear as a man-made calamity. If this is indeed the case, then the future could be ominous.

On August 2, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) announced that the worst flood in the last 80 years had struck the country, but no comparative data was provided to justify this. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa received the most rainfall during July but no record was broken. On the other hand, the Tarbela and Taunsa dams received so much water that it broke a record that had stood for over a century. If the flood was a result of heavy rainfall, why doesn’t the data for flood and rainfall support one another?

…Scientists are pointing fingers at climate change as one of the factors for unprecedented heavy rains and the heat wave. In a research study by PMD on last year’s rainfall, a statement by Dr Hayley Fowler of the University of Newcastle in the UK says: “The water inflow in Tarbela is largely dependent on three sources; glaciers (60 per cent), snow melt (30 per cent) and rainfall (10 per cent).” The report also mentions the mean temperature of the catchment areas as the determinant factor for the level of flow from glaciers. Climatic change appears to be a more important factor of the flood this year. The PMD admits in one of its report that there is a need to conduct comprehensive study on glaciers and develop a model to determine water melt from them….

A footbridge over the Indus River in Pakistan, shot by Bernard Gagnon , Wikimedia Commons,under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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