Wednesday Jun 23 2021

Pakistan: Climate change causing rise in sea level, frequent cyclones, say experts

Photo: File.

KARACHI: The frequency of tropical cyclones’ formation in the Arabian sea has increased 10 times during the last 20 years due to continuous rise in the sea-surface temperature, and in the years to come, the occurrence of more intense tropical cyclones is feared due to the increase in the sea temperature.

“In addition to the more frequent formation of intense tropical cyclones, the rise in seawater temperature is resulting in sea-level rise which can seriously affect coastal ecosystems, destruction of agricultural lands, along the coastal belt and may result in mass migration due to loss of livelihood,” former Director-General, Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) and Regional Program Manager Center for Mountain Development (ICIMOD) Dr Ghulam Rasool said Tuesday. 

Shedding light on the implications of sea-level rise and increased frequency of tropical cyclones in the Arabian sea to the coastal infrastructure and the Indus delta, Dr Ghulam Rasool asked Pakistan meteorological scientists to use data from sea-level observations and future projections for applications to coastal climate impact research and risk assessment.

He was speaking at a three-day online training workshop on “Sea-level rise and implications for Pakistan” jointly organised by the UK Met Office and International Centre for Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in partnership with Pakistan Meteorological Department.

Director-General PMD Dr Muhammad Riaz acknowledged the threat to Pakistan’s coastal areas due to a rise in sea level in the near future.

Daron Joseph, the lead of the UK Met Office team, spoke about the contents of the training, including both science and projections. This training workshop is supported by the Asia Regional Resilience to a Changing Climate (ARRCC) programme funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO).

Dr Ghulam Rasool, who is one of the organisers of the workshop, said this training event is aimed at supporting the use of data from sea-level observations and future projections for applications to coastal climate impact research and risk assessment.

“The participants of the training have come from a diverse range of academic background from 18 scientific institutions, including academia, relevant Government agencies, INGOs and research institutes as well as Pakistan Navy. The workshop is also aimed at capacity-building of Pakistani institutions and experts to deal with challenges of sea-level rise and increased frequency of tropical cyclones in the sea”, Dr Ghulam Rasul added.

He maintained that Pakistan was the global host of the World Environment Day on 5th June 2021 with United Nations Environment Program and its celebrations continued over the two weeks mostly through online webinars and roundtable discussions on the topics related to the theme of the day “Restoration of Ecosystems”.

“The UNEP has declared 2021-2030 the decade of Ecosystems Restoration and Pakistan’s 10 billion tree tsunami initiative is a flagship project to address the issues of the environmental degradation and restoration of different ecosystems with which nature has blessed Pakistan”, he maintained.

Pakistan has the world’s highest mountain ranges of the Himalayas, Karakoram and Hindukush, hosting the third largest ice mass in the form of glaciers after the polar regions and present a unique mountain ecosystem that is exposed to various climatic and non-climatic challenges.

“The central parts have vast rangeland and desert ecosystems with some indifferent characteristics. More than 1000km long Sindh-Makran coast offers a diverse coastal ecosystem, which however is highly vulnerable to the coastal disasters triggered by global warming and climate change,” he warned.

Dr Rasul mentioned that the training modules were developed to cover a wide range of topics related to the science of sea-level rise and the future projections to help policymakers and planners to take long-term policy measures. The Indus Delta, 6th largest in the world is 7th most vulnerable, is the very important entity of Pakistan coastal ecosystem which is directly affected by the sea level rise including seawater intrusion, brackish groundwater neither suitable for drinking nor agriculture, storm surges, reduced environmental flows and deforestation of mangroves. 

“This training is first of its kind for Pakistani professionals and in future, some advanced training will also be organized with a focus on the application of such knowledge especially connecting science with policy”, he added.