Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday September 2, 2022
Why are Pakistan’s floods so extreme this year?
With rivers breaking their banks, flash flooding and glacial lakes bursting, Pakistan is experiencing its worst floods this century. At least one-third of the country is under water. Scientists say several factors have contributed to the extreme event, which has displaced some 33 million people and killed more than 1,200.
Researchers say the catastrophe probably started with phenomenal heatwaves. In April and May, temperatures reached above 40 °C for prolonged periods in many places. On one sweltering day in May, the city of Jacobabad topped 51 °C. “These were not normal heatwaves — they were the worst in the world. We had the hottest place on Earth in Pakistan,” says Malik Amin Aslam, the country’s former minister for climate change, who is based in Islamabad.
Warmer air can hold more moisture. So meteorologists warned earlier this year that the extreme temperatures would probably result in “above normal” levels of rain during the country’s monsoon season, from July to September, says Zia Hashmi, a water-resources engineer at the Global Change Impact Studies Centre in Islamabad, speaking in his personal capacity.