Pakistan floods driven by climate change, say UN officials

The floods have displaced up to 20 million people since they first began Copyright: Flickr/DFID

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The recent floods in Pakistan could turn out to be the worst impact of climate change to date, according to UN climate experts.

Scientists at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said last week (11 August) that there is no doubt that higher global temperatures were behind the floods.

"There’s no doubt that clearly the climate change is contributing, a major contributing factor," Ghassem Asrar, director of the World Climate Research Programme and the WMO, said in an interview with Climatewire.

Warmer temperatures likely contributed to the heavy rains. Satellites reveal that around one-fifth of Pakistan is submerged underwater.

Mudslides in eastern China and the heat wave and fires in Russia have also been linked to the same cause.

"The connecting factor is that clearly the warming is a driver for all these events," said Asrar.

"The occurrence of all these events at almost the same time raises questions about their possible linkages to the predicted increase in intensity and frequency of extreme events, for example as stipulated in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007," said the WMO in a report.

Currently the Indus River is at its highest recorded water level in more than 100 years, and the floods have displaced up to 20 million — and killed an estimated 1,600 people — since they started a month ago. 

"This is a disaster which has affected many more people than I have ever seen," said John Holmes, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Link to full article in Scientific American

Link to WMO statement