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Heavier rainfall triggered by climate change will swamp Bangladesh's riverbanks and could increase flooding in the country by up to 40 per cent, according to a new study.

Most climate models agree that South East Asia could see up to 20 per cent more rainfall if global temperatures rise by 5°C. But until now no one had investigated how Bangladesh's rivers would cope, according to Monirul Qader Mirza, a Bangladeshi water resources expert at the University of Toronto, Canada, who led the research.

Mirza's team collected data on the relationship between current rainfall and the flow of water in Bangladesh's three main rivers. They then conducted a computer simulation of how various factors affect the flow of water within river basins, and found that the land available to grow crops will be significantly reduced due to flooding. Policy planners should begin working on adaptation measures to avoid placing intolerable pressure on farmers, Mirza says.

Link to New Scientist news story

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Abstract of paper by Mirza et al in Climatic Change

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