by Aisha Khan

Q: How much is Pakistan affected by climate change?
A: Among the visible indicators of Climate Change (CC), the increased frequency of floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, heat waves and cloudbursts, are noteworthy.

Q: Are there some areas in which the impact is more than in others?
A: Analyses of temperature data over the last 85 years indicate increased warming. In the Southern half of the country, the increase is 0.9C, while glaciated part of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (north of Pakistan) experienced an increase of 1.9C over the same period. However, in the monsoon zones of Punjab and KP (representing central part of Pakistan), minimal change of only +0.3C took place. Higher heat trap in glaciated zone of HKKH is the cause of concern in terms of glacial dynamics.

Q: Do we have a comprehensive vulnerability map that can help us to plan adaptation actions that are place based and people centric?
A:  The NDMA has conducted a study for disaster vulnerability on a district scale in collaboration with PMD, and other partner organisations. Quantification of impact is a continuous process and it should continue over different time scales.

Q: How much do early warning systems help in reducing risks and prevent loss and damage?
A: Early warning systems (EWS) are the first line of defense against disasters to prevent loss of lives and properties and to avert damage to infrastructure. In the era of climate change, there is a popular slogan, “Invest one dollar on EWS, and save 36 dollars”.

Q: Can you share some data that shows that climate change is a reality and the planet is actually warmer today than it was 50 years ago?
A: On the planetary scale, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issues a statement every year on the status of climate based on data from 198 countries.

The latest WMO statement issued in March 2016, shows that 14 out of 15 warmest years happened in the 21st century. So far, 2015 is ranked as the warmest year followed by 2014, 2010 and 2005.

More scientific evidence is the latest NASA report, which compares the recent trend with the past several years. It indicates that the first half of 2016 was the warmest episode in recorded history. If this trend continues in the second half, which is likely, then 2016 will break all the previous records of warming.

Q: How can the Met department play a role in providing data that can build local capacity and guide policy initiatives to reduce vulnerability?
A: The PMD has been operating with 97 meteorological stations spread over the country monitoring weather and climate. Based upon this data, climate change is assessed on different temporal and spatial scales. Disaster prone areas are identified and EWSs are established.

At the same time, seasonal outlook with 3 months lead time of all climatic zones of Pakistan for planning purpose, are issued by PMD, depicting anticipated droughts, high melting season, likelihood of GLOF, landslides, and flash floods. The NDMA, PDMAs and Civil Society Organisations utilise this information in a proactive way.

Q: Pakistan is home to the largest glaciated land mass after the Polar Region. Is the response of all glaciers the same to climate change or are some shrinking and some growing?
A: The Response of glaciers to global warming in the HKKH region is different due to their varied characteristics, but most of the glaciers are receding at an accelerated rate. However, there are some advancing/surging glaciers too, which are highlighted as Karakoram Anomaly.

These are some high elevation glaciers in Karakoram Range and their percentage is very small compared to the total number of glaciers. The melting rate of glaciers lower than 4000m is very high, but above that it is rather slow kamagra tablets.

Q: What kind of research is needed to assess glacial behavior that can give us a fairly approximate idea of water storage capacity and availability?
A: We have to increase the number of monitoring stations at different elevation to study the thermal and precipitation regime.
Simultaneously, mass balance studies in accumulation and ablation zones should be intensified to assess the total water resources and the rate at which solid is converted into liquid.

Using such ground observations and future climate change scenarios, models should be developed for simulation of future water resources.

Q: What is the difference between CO2 emissions and black carbon? How does black carbon affect glaciers?
A: CO2 is a gas, whereas black carbon is solid particles. Black carbon is a product of CO2 and it absorbs a lot of heat, which results in accelerated melting of glacier ice over which it deposits. Its concentration has been seen as increasing in the ablation zones of HKKH glaciers. The sources of black carbon are both indigenous and transboundary.

Q: Do we have the data on the number of glacial lakes and their risk category, and what steps is the government taking for disaster risk reduction?
A: In 2013, the glacial lake inventory of Pakistan was updated. That is a significant increase in the number of lakes as compared to the 2005 inventory.
There are 36 glacial lakes having immediate risk of outburst. It is worth mentioning that glacial lakes formation and disappearance is a dynamic feature and the number increases or decreases sharply over temporal and spatial scales.

Also, the stability of lakes changes rapidly in line with the melting process and weather dynamics of the region. GLOF EWS has been established in Chitral and Bagrot, a valley which has successfully prevented the risk of GLOF during the last two years. It has been proposed to expand EWS network in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral.

Q: Pakistan is a lower riparian country dependent on timely flows and melt volume of water to meet its agricultural needs. Climate change is causing hydrological imbalance which is contributing to increasing frequency and intensity of floods. Do you think that telemetry and real time data sharing can help save lives and reduce vulnerability?
A: Under climate change, rapid changes in the hydrological cycle have occurred resulting in frequent floods and drought. Due to minimal water storage capacity of reservoirs, sustainable supply of water for agriculture, domestic and industrial users is not possible.

Increasing water requirements under global warming are putting pressure on ground water used to meet the requirements. In case of Transboundary Rivers, data sharing among the upper and lower riparian is essential.

Q: Is the Met department well equipped with the latest machines to capture weather patterns and issue timely alerts and advisories?
A: The Met Department has been struggling to fulfill the demands of different users for weather and climate forecast and warnings well ahead of the occurrence of the phenomena with conventional instruments. Numerous latest developments in meteorological technology have appeared and PMD is prepared to adopt them to set up a state-of-the-art EWS. A package of Rs 20b is in the process of approval.

Q: Would you like to share any best practice utilised by the Met department that has contributed to risk reduction
A: EWS established for GLOF, Heat Waves, Tropical Cyclones and Riverine, as well as Flash Floods, have saved human lives and damage to infrastructure.