What is climate change? – Pakistan in focus!

A part of PWPGreen

What is climate change?

Climate change is a global phenomenon rather than localized one, it is a significant change in the distribution of weather patterns across the world ranging from decades to million of years. Natural and human factors both affect global climate. Natural causes include interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere, changes in the Earth’s orbit and volcanic eruptions. Humans influence global climate by releasing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. These gases absorb energy that is radiated from the Earth’s surface, warming the atmosphere and increasing temperatures globally.

Seriousness of climate change?

Changes as small as a 2°C global temperature rise will have serious impacts:

  • Rising sea levels.
  • Extreme events such as droughts and heavy rainfall, leading to disruption to natural and man-made habitats.

These impacts are why so much effort is being made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to prevent the most damaging climate change. This is known as mitigating climate change.

Effects of Climate change in Pakistan

Following are the effects of climate change in Pakistan that are expected to have devastating effect on the country;

  • Frequent floods – 21st century has seen a sharp rise in the number of floods.
  • Long lasting drought – 21st century saw the worst drought in Pakistan.
  • Increase number of cyclones – 21st century saw increase number of cyclones in the country.
  • Severe Earthquakes – 21st century saw the worst earthquake in Pakistan.
  • Monsoon changing pattern – Heavy precipitation in 2010 and 2011.

Flooding in Pakistan

10,023 people have lost their lives in Pakistan due to flash floods since 1950 till 2011;

Historical floods in Pakistan
From 1950 till 2010
Year Fatalities People affected
1950 2,190 10,000
1956 160 11,609
1957 83 4,498
1973 474 9,719
1976 425 18,390
1978 393 9,199
1988 508 1,000
1992 1,008 13,208
1995 591 6,85
2001 219 50
2003 484 4,376
2004 85 47
2005 59 1,931
2007 918 2 million+
2010 2,000 20 million
2011 434 8.9 million

The 21st century has seen a gradual rise of floods especially 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010, 2011.

Drought in Pakistan

Drought in Balochistan

21st century saw three periods of drought in the country with the first being the most deadly than the two. Following are the list of droughts in the country;

Extreme drought of 1998 – 2002

  • The drought of 1998-2002 is considered worst in 50 years in Pakistan. The drought started in 1997 as El-Nino developed, but the drought gained intensity in 1998 and reached its peak in 2000 till 2001 and thus gradually weakened in 2002. The extreme drought also affected much of India and Afghanistan. The World Bank warned that the drought would inevitably hit economic growth of Pakistan. Thus it denoted several hundred-million dollars to help Pakistan through its worsening drought. At least 180 people died in the southern parts of the country from the drought.

Moderate drought of 2004 till 2005

  • The drought of 2004 till 2005 was an on and off phenomenon, the drought gripped the lower parts of Pakistan mainly Balochistan and Sindh, However no damage or death was reported during th period possibly due to 2003′s flooding.

Weak drought of mid 2009 – mid 2010

  • This drought developed over the upper parts of Pakistan that is Punjab, Khyber, Gilgit, Kashmir and Northern Balochistan. Sindh was unaffected by this drought. The major reason of this drought was the development of El-Nino which badly affected India, India experienced the driest monsoon year since 1977.

Cyclones in Pakistan 

Tropical activity near the coastal areas of Pakistan has increased due to the changing weather patterns over the Arabian sea. Following are the wettest cyclones in Pakistan

Wettest tropical cyclones in Pakistan
Highest known recorded totals
Precipitation Storm Measurement
Rank (mm) (in)
1 370 mm 14.57 inches Cyclone Phet 2010 Gwadar
2 285  mm 11.22  inches Cyclone 2A 1999 Shah Bandar
3 245 mm 9.64 inches Depression 2009 Karachi
4 191 mm 7.51 inches Deep depression 2007 Karachi
5 145 mm 5.71 inches Cyclone Onil 2004 Thatta
6 110 mm 3.94 inches Cyclone Yemyin 2007 Karachi
7 43 mm 1.69 inches Deep depression(2007) Karachi
8 18 mm 0.70 inches depression(2009) Karachi

Since 1998, there had been a gradual rise in cyclonic activity near the Pakistani coastlines.

Earthquakes in Pakistan

Aftermath of Kashmir Earthquake: Common scene during Quakes!

The number of deaths from known Earthquake since 1935 till 2011 is 149,518 in Pakistan.

Earthquakes in Pakistan
Earthquakes are the deadliest disaster in Pakistan
Number of Modern Earthquakes
Year Magnitude Deaths Areas affected
August 24, 1931 7 Sharigh valley, Balochistan
August 27, 1931 7.4 Mach, Balochistan province
May 31, 1935 7.7 60,000 Districts of Balochistan
November 27, 1945 7.9 or 8 (tsunami) 4,000 Makran-Sindh coastal areas
December 28, 1974 6.2 5,300 Districts of the Khyber province
October 8, 2005 7.8 80,000 Parts of Khyber and Azad Kashmir
October 29, 2008 6.4 216 Quetta, Balochistan
January 18, 2011 7.2 2 Balochistan

21st century has seen greater number of earthquake than the 20th century.

It is very clear from the above charts that 21st century has seen rapid increase in the intensity and frequency of floods, droughts, cyclones and earthquakes. Such a rapid change could only be blamed on climate change. In this article PWP have highlighted some old information but the reason to combine them was to show the Pakistani public that from 1998 till now a lot has changed in the country. Human beings can not fight nature but they could take precautions to avoid heavy causalities.

PWPGreen‘s next article would be about Sindh floods and their link to climate change that would be published on Pakistan climate change day.

2 thoughts on “What is climate change? – Pakistan in focus!

  1. Babar Bhai, Assalam o Alaikum! It is the end of December but still there is no Fog in the streets of Multan, Normally the end of December brings Fog which lasts till approxiamtely 10th of Januray in Multan. Is Foggy activity late in Multan this year 2011?

    • Walikum Assalam Adil, fog did occur over Multan and other cities of Punjab. Normally dense fog occurs when there is humid conditions along with light winds. Foggy conditions in Pakistan continue till early February, as this WD 12 passes into India, fog could redevelop over Multan especially morning/night.

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