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Rainfall Variability: Impact of Climate Change

The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (henceforth, GBM) river system is the third largest freshwater outfall to the world's oceans. The Ganges and the Brahmaputra fall in a number of countries in the South Asian region, including China, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Of these China contributes solely to the flow of the Brahmaputra, and Nepal to the flow of the Ganges. These two rivers often overflow during the monsoon months, and the flow reduces dramatically in the dry season. The region therefore faces two major hazards: floods during the monsoon and scarcity of water during the dry season. These hazards become more pronounced in the downstream regions particularly in Bangladesh.

The Deluge of Floods in South Asia
Publish Date : Mon, 03 Sep 2007

Floods and landslides are the most common natural
hazards in the Himalayan region, resulting in
disasters of various scales every year. Growing
population, haphazard development, environmental
degradation, and endemic poverty all contribute to the
region's already great vulnerability to floods. Over
the last three decades, South Asia has seen a
staggering 65,000 deaths and about a billion people
affected by floods and landslides that account for
more than one-third (33%) of all the floods occurring
in Asia.

The monsoon rains this year have rendered another 30
million people homeless, and more than 2700 dead in
Bangladesh, India, and Nepal in the worst flood
disaster in the region in the last 30 years. A few
years back in 2005, the extreme rainfall in Mumbai
(944 mm collecting in 24 hours), and the extensive
flooding in June 2007 in Balochistan, which used to be
one of the driest regions of Pakistan, are just a few
examples of the erratic patterns and increasing number
of floods in the region in recent history. They
testify to the projections of scientists, based on
climate models, that changes in monsoon patterns with
respect to both intensity and duration are likely to
occur as a result of climate change and vulnerability.