- Web Desk
- 21 Minutes ago
Climate chaos unfolds before our eyes as rainfall remains elusive
- Web Desk
- Jan 21, 2024
(WEB DESK) A comprehensive research report by the Institute of Geographical Information System in 2018 foretold a troubling future for Islamabad’s climate. Those predictions seemed to have started taking shape, which is evident from the dense fog engulfing Islamabad with no rainfall in sight.
In the report, projections for 2031-2040 indicated a minimum temperature of 16.04°C and a maximum of 27.62°C for Islamabad. We have already plunged down this minimum, which paves the way for the maximum temperature to rise beyond the predicted maximum come summers.
The subsequent decades paint an even warmer picture, with adverse effects including an increase in hot days, a decrease in cold days and nights, heightened heat waves, and a shortage of rainfall, as well as extreme precipitation events.
This year, Islamabad faces an evident absence of rainfall, leading to persistently cold and dry weather. The repercussions are felt beyond the capital, as a recent article in Dawn highlights an unprecedented dry spell in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, sounding the alarm for potential climate threats. The absence of snow in the traditionally snow-covered landscapes raises concerns about water scarcity, flash floods, glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), and disruptions to agriculture and the natural ecosystem.
Traditionally, Gilgit-Baltistan experiences its snow season from December to January, but this year deviates significantly, with snow-covered areas appearing barren. Local communities downstream of the Indus River face heightened concerns, as the water tower of Pakistan undergoes an atypical transformation.
The absence of snowfall not only jeopardizes water supply but also poses risks for agriculture. Unusually warm temperatures have led to delays in winter sports events, including ski competitions. Gilgit-Baltistan, crucial for feeding the Indus River, which sustains 70% of Pakistan’s agriculture and 40% of its hydropower, is facing an uncertain future.
THE FLIP SIDE
The current situation not only impacts Gilgit-Baltistan but also has the potential to affect areas downstream of the Indus River. Data from the Gilgit-Baltistan Environmental Protection Agency (GBEPA) spanning 30 years reveals an average annual temperature rise of 0.5 degrees Celsius and a decrease in precipitation by 8.5mm per year. These shifts in climate patterns result in sporadic events like intense downpours, droughts, and rapid melting of snow and glaciers, adversely affecting residents and posing challenges to both immediate and long-term developmental goals in the region.
On another front, heavy rainfall in plains is equally worrisome. Last October’s rain spell damaged rice crops, delaying harvests, and impacting farming practices in Punjab. Similar changes in rainfall patterns have affected peanut farmers in northern Punjab, with excessive dry spells diminishing crop yields.
A local farmer, Ammad Ali Raza, expressed his concern to Dawn news last year, stating that his area received only one spell of rain between July and August. The delay in harvesting prompts farmers to resort to burning rice stubbles, exacerbating the smog situation in the province.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in a November 2023 report, attributed significant changes in weather patterns to climate change, emphasising the impact of elevated surface temperatures. Greenhouse gases, released through the combustion of fossil fuels, are identified as primary culprits. These gases act as a metaphorical blanket enveloping the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and causing a rise in temperatures.
Circling back to Islamabad, the capital city directly feels the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide and methane, as well as the use of fossil fuels in various sectors such as energy, transport, industries, and agriculture. As the climate crisis intensifies, Pakistan grapples with the urgent need for sustainable practices and mitigation strategies to safeguard its environment and the well-being of its citizens.