Historic heatwave events increased 90-fold, meaning historic glacier melting –Pakistan has 7,000 glaciers, which means historic floods. In the Himalayas, most of the humid air drops its water on the Subcontinent side of the Himalayas, and not on the Tibet side, which is why China is seeing a drought and Pakistan a flood.
Tomas Pueyo in Uncharted Territories: When the Pakistani minister for climate change said that “literally, a third of the country was underwater”, I thought she didn’t mean “literally” literally. But she did.
It’s affecting a whopping 50 million people. How come such a mountainous country as Pakistan is submerged under water? We hear this is due to climate change, and that Pakistan is one of the countries most affected by climate change. But why?
Meanwhile, not too far away, China is having one of the worst droughts in history.
Satellites give us both Pakistan’s floods and China’s drought.
China’s biggest lake is disappearing due to severe drought. Poyang Lake in May compared to this week is just unrecognizable.
These events are two sides of the same coin. To understand, we need to go to China first.
China’s Heatwave is unprecedented. The longevity and intensity of the heatwave is hard to comprehend. Too many heat records to count, both day and night. Beibei hit 45°C for two consecutive and some places not falling below 34°C at night. The heat is ongoing.
The heat is causing a drought, which also reduces hydropower, which in turns reduces the energy available to seek relief from the heat with AC. Unsurprisingly, this heatwave is caused by climate change. It’s no surprise that the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is suffering from the same heatwave.
Records have been reached in the US, India, the UK, Spain, France. Why this dramatic increase, when we’ve only increased global temperatures by 1.2°C since the beginning of the Industrial Era? It’s a matter of distributions of temperatures:
Humans have evolved with normal distribution of temperatures with somewhat equal events of extreme heat and cold. But if you shift it just a little towards hotter temperatures, this is what’s happening across the Northern Hemisphere right now:
The shift increases heatwave events manifold. In fact, 90-fold. The global data analysis is here. It is the 3-sigma events which have increased 90-fold.
But then why is it causing these floods in Pakistan? And why not in China?
We’re hearing the cause is a historic monsoon: “The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids.” Are monsoons the only culprit? Why is it happening at the same time as a global heatwave? And why is it impacting so many people? To understand this, we need to understand Pakistan’s geography:
Pakistan has two things: very high mountains, and a very flat plain. The plain, in turn, is either desert or the Indus Valley. The Indus Valley is where the population is most concentrated. You can easily tell by just looking at the map of nightlights.
So when the Indus floods, it does so on the most fertile areas of its valley. The most fertile areas are also the most populous, and so a big share of Pakistan’s 220 million people is affected. So why the floods? Why is the monsoon so aggressive this year? We need to understand the mechanics of the monsoon.
In the Himalayas, most of the humid air drops its water on the Subcontinent side of the Himalayas, not on the Tibet side, which is why China is seeing a drought and Pakistan a flood.
There’s one last element: the glaciers: Pakistan has 7,000 glaciers, the most of any country outside of the polar regions. Historic heatwave (heatwave events increased 90-fold) means historic glacier melting, which means historic floods. Read all of it here.
Honorary contributors to DesPardes: Ajaz Ahmed, Ammar Jafri, Anwar Abbas, Arif Mirza, Aziz Ahmed, Bawar Tawfik, Dr. Razzak Ladha, G. R. Baloch, Jamil Usman, Jawed Ahmed, Ishaq Saqi, Khalid Sharif, Masroor Ali, Md. Ahmed, Md. Najibullah, Shahbaz Ali, Shahid Nayeem, Syed Hamza Gilani