Around two billion people in Asia are affected by the monsoon season and a variation in the rains could be the difference between droughts and floods in regional countries.
This was said by climate researchers from around the world, who converged on Islamabad on Monday to discuss the science behind the Asian monsoon and the affect on its patterns and variability with changes in the planet’s climate.
The two-day international conference “Asian Monsoon and Climate Change” is being organised by the Centre for Climate Research and Development at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology in collaboration with Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and China’s International Centre for Climate and Environment Sciences (ICCES).
Speakers said that monsoon in the Asian subcontinents — South Asia and East Asia — was critical to the climate of the region.
“Changes in the Asian monsoon are occurring on a year-by-year basis,” ICCES Director Prof Zhaohui Lin told The Express Tribune. “These changes are causing extreme weather conditions such as droughts, flooding and heat waves, so it is important that scientists from different countries can get together and share their research and experiences on this issue.”
Lin said that the East Asian and South Asian monsoon systems have some similarities but also some notable differences. He said that research findings from around the world can help scientists in the region understand the behaviour of the monsoon season and perhaps predict future trends.
Pakistan is extremely vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change and massive floods have wreaked havoc in the country in successive years since 2010. But in one presentation, Azmat Hayat Khan, a director at the Pakistan Meteorology Department, said that droughts were perhaps as likely to affect Pakistan as floods in the future.
Khan shared findings from his research on predicting droughts in southern Pakistan which indicated that the “events of deficient rainfalls are increasing.” It means that southern areas including Balochistan and parts of Sindh which are already vulnerable to drought are seeing “more and more dry periods.”
A poster display was arranged on the sidelines of the conference. The posters showed the results of recent scientific studies conducted by local researchers working on rainfall variability and its effects.
Earlier, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid said that climate change was a potent threat facing developing countries including Pakistan. He said that the government was working to improve mitigation and adaptation measures for climate change in the country and would appreciate support from the scientific community on these efforts.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2014.
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