Scientists say climate change is a factor behind the irregular and early rains that have caused unprecedented floods in Bangladesh and Northeast India, killing dozens and killing millions of others.
Although the region is no stranger to floods, they usually occur later in the year when monsoon rains are in progress.
This year, torrential rains flooded the area in March. It may take much longer to determine to what extent climate change played a role in the floods, but scientists say it has made the monsoon – a seasonal change in weather, usually associated with heavy rains – more volatile in recent decades. This means that much of rain It is expected to fall in a year, arriving in a few weeks.
The northeastern Indian state of Megalaya received almost three times its average rainfall in June in the first three weeks of the month alone, and neighboring Assam received twice the average monthly rainfall over the same period. Several rivers, including one of the largest in Asia, flow downstream from both states in the Bay of Bengal to low-lying Bangladesh, a densely populated delta nation.
With forecasts of more rainfall over the next five days, the Bangladesh Flood Forecast and Warning Center warned on Tuesday that water levels will remain dangerously high in the country northern regions.
The monsoon pattern, vital to India’s and Bangladesh’s agrarian economies, has been changing since the 1950s, with longer dry periods interspersed with heavy rains, said Roxy Matthew Cole, a climatologist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune. , adding that extreme rainfall is also expected to increase.
Until now, floods in northwestern Bangladesh have been rare, while Assam state, known for its tea growing, usually copes with floods later in the year during the regular monsoon season. The heavy rainfall this year, which hit the region in just a few weeks, makes the current floods an “unprecedented” situation, said Angel Prakash, research director at India’s Bharti Institute of Public Policy, who contributed to the UN-sponsored study. Global Warming.
“This is something we have never heard or seen,” he said.
A total of 36 people have died in Bangladesh since May 17, while Indian authorities said so flood deaths have risen to 78 in Assam, and another 17 have died in landslides.
Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and millions in the region have been forced to clash in makeshift evacuation centers.
Some, such as Mohammad Rashik Ahmed, a shopkeeper in Sylhet, the worst-hit city in northeastern Bangladesh, returned home anxiously with their families to see what could be saved. Walking through water to his knees, he said he was worried the floods would rise again. “The weather is changing … there could be another disaster at any time.”
He is one of about 3.5 million Bangladeshis who face the same difficulty every year when rivers flood, according to a 2015 analysis by the World Bank Institute.
The country of 160 million is considered one of the most vulnerable to climate change and the poor are disproportionately affected.
Mohammad Arfanuzaman, a climate change expert at the Food and Agriculture Organization, said catastrophic floods like this year could have far-reaching impacts, from farmers losing their crops to being trapped in a debt cycle to children. who can not go to school and at increased risk of disease.
“Poor people are suffering a lot from the ongoing floods,” he said.
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