Deep underwater: Intense rain and flooding has made this year Pakistan’s wettest year since records began in 1961. Photo: ZeeNews

Massive floods create inland lake in Pakistan’s Sindh province

Videos of massive flooding in Pakistan sent shockwaves across the world. At least 1,162 people died and 33 million have been affected since June. Satellite imagery showed how an overflowing Indus river created a 100-km inland lake in a part of Sindh province. The United Nations called the incessant rain a “monsoon on steroids”.  According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, this year has been the country’s wettest since records began in 1961.

India reports ‘wild swings’ in rainfall patterns; floods sweep away villages in north, east 

This year’s monsoon season is still characterised by stark differences in regions, with wild swings between no rain and incessant rainfall. This month, at least 50 people were killed after torrential rain triggered floods and landslides in northern and eastern India, especially Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, in a span of three days. Village residents were left stranded after rains washed their houses away. 

In Bengaluru this week, residential areas were waterlogged after torrential rain. The city is close to breaking its all-time high record of 387.1 mm made in 1998. Stranded residents were seen being evacuated in rafts.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), however, the monsoon season has been a mixed bag, with eight states reporting excess rain, while eight others reported a deficit. Experts warned that while the monsoon usually begins receding from north India in the third week of September, this year, it may not recede until October, creating a confusion between summer monsoon and winter monsoon rain. They blamed the warming of the La Niña and the Arctic region over the past three years for the delay. 

Around 163 districts, including in Tamil Nadu and parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, also reported a sudden swing in rainfall patterns—from excess to deficient—between August 10 and 17. In the same time period, 167 districts in Gujarat and Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, reported a swing from deficient to excess rain.  

11 more wetlands get international tag, taking tally to 75; highest in Asia

Eleven more wetlands in India were deemed internationally important under the Ramsar Convention. The convention is an international treaty that aims to conserve and sustain the use of wetlands.

 At 75, India now has the most number of Ramsar sites in Asia, surpassing China’s 64. Of the 11 wetlands, four are in Tamil Nadu, three are in Odisha, two are in Jammu and Kashmir and one each are in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. 

Heavy month of flooding kills 180 in Afghanistan 

A month of heavy flooding in Afghanistan has killed more than 180 people, according to a Taliban spokesperson. Rain also damaged more than 3,000 houses and injured more than 250 people, officials said. Flash floods between August 16 and 31 alone killed 65 people and injured 115 others, including women and children, according to a UN report. The UN also estimated 256 people have so far been killed this year by flash floods in the country. 

China issues first drought alert of the year amidst extreme heatwave

Amidst an extreme heatwave, China issued its first drought alert of the year. Across the Yangtze river basin, officials are struggling to contain forest fires and protect crops from the scorching heat. Government officials blamed climate change for the incessant heat. The warning is two warnings short of its more severe alert. Poyang lake, one of the most important flood basins in the Yangtze region, has reduced to a quarter of its normal size this year, according to state news.  

Doomed ice more than doubles sea level rise risks from Greenland’s ice sheet

Greenland’s melting ice sheets, according to a new study, will cause global sea levels to rise by at least 10.6 inches. The worrying projection is more than double previous forecasts. The reason for the increase in estimates is “zombie ice” or accumulated ice mass that is still attached to thicker areas of ice but is no longer being replenished by parent glaciers due to reduced snowfall in the region. The lack of replenishment and the resulting imbalance in Greenland’s ice mass, the scientists say, point to locked-in sea level rise of 10.6 inches or 27.4 cm, regardless of 21st century climate and decarbonization pathways.

The new estimate, which pegs resultant sea level rise of up to 78.2 cm (~30 inches) if conditions of the 2012 “high-melt year” are applied in perpetuity, is significantly higher than the 2-5 inch range (6-13 cm) included in the last year’s IPCC WG1 report. The study is the first time scientists have calculated minimum ice loss — and accompanying sea level rise — for the Greenland ice sheet.

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