Global temperature and precipitation patterns are affected by climate change. Extreme environmental phenomena such as forest fires, hurricanes, heat waves, floods, droughts, and storms are influenced by these effects, which in turn influence their intensity and, in some circumstances, frequency.

In the previous 30 years, the number of climate-related disasters has tripled. The rate of global sea-level rise was 2.5 times greater between 2006 and 2016 than it was for practically the entire twentieth century.

In the first month of 2022, several environmental disasters struck the world, including heavy rains and floods in Brazil, Iran, and Madagascar; heavy snowfall in Turkiye, Pakistan, and the United States; wildfires in Spain and Argentina; and volcanic eruptions in Ecuador's Wolf volcano and the Pacific nation of Tonga.

What Is The Relationship Between Natural Disasters And Climate Change?

Many natural catastrophes, such as floods, storms, landslides, and droughts, are increasingly being recognised as the most extreme effects of climate change induced by human activity. The world has warmed by 1.2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times. The UN estimates that existing emission-control pledges will result in a 2.7-degree warmer world by 2100, increasing the frequency and intensity of such calamities.

Fast and slow natural disasters are the two types of 'natural' disasters. Storms, floods, landslides, and heat waves are examples of fast disasters that have immediate and visible consequences. Droughts, increases in water and soil salinity, and crop losses are gradual disasters, thus the effects may take longer. They take time to appear, but they can be very serious. All of these disasters are becoming more frequent and intense as a result of climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

That observation has been validated time and time again in South Asia and the Himalayas during the last decade. Monsoon disruption, increased salt in coastal areas due to rising sea levels, and flash floods driven by quicker glacier melting are just a few of the 'natural' disasters rendered more common and severe by human-induced climate change.

Cyclones Are More Powerful Due To Climate Change

Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal have suddenly increased in intensity when they pass across the sea in recent years. This, according to scientists, is due to the higher-than-before sea surface temperature, which is a result of climate change. This implies that more water evaporates and is drawn into the storm's vortex, increasing the cyclone's destructive potential.

What Causes Floods In South Asia As A Result Of Climate Change?

Climate warming, according to scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, would make the South Asian monsoon more irregular than previously in 2020. Within a year, this was confirmed: during the 2021 June-September monsoon, there were many rainless days, interrupted by bouts of torrential rainfall in the lowlands and cloudbursts in the mountains. As a result, droughts and floods occurred in rapid succession, sometimes even in the same area. One example is the Bundelkhand region, which lies along the Indo-Gangetic plains' southern boundary.

Floods in Assam and Bihar have grown so common that they no longer receive the attention they deserve in the media. Climate change has exacerbated the problem, as have poorly built flood-control measures such as dams and embankments.

What Causes Landslides In The Himalayas As A Result Of Climate Change?

Cloudbursts in the Himalayas nearly always result in flash floods and landslides. Hill slopes in this, the world's youngest mountain range, are already less stable than in other ranges, and they have eroded. There is a higher amount of loose dirt in their soil. Dam construction and poorly designed roadbuilding projects have rendered the slopes even more unstable. In terms of events, fatalities, and economic damage, the number of landslides in 2021 was far too high to track.

As happened in Nepal's Melamchi river basin in 2021, cloudbursts and landslides are now occurring in the Himalayan region right from the start of the monsoon season.

What Exactly Is A GLOF?

When water in a glacial lake - produced by water that has melted from a glacier – bursts its banks, it is known as a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF).

The Himalayas are home to a variety of GLOFs, which are becoming more common as a result of climate change. Lakes formed by melting glaciers are overflowing their banks, as shown in the Uttarakhand disaster of 2013. Entire ice walls are crumbling into rivers, similar to the terrible flood in Uttarakhand in February 2021. Glacier ice sheets are slipping over meltwater in other parts of the world, including an alarming example in northern Pakistan in May 2021. All of these events resulted in flash floods, which caused extensive damage.

What Role Does Climate Change Have In Forest Fires?

Drier woods are another effect of climate change, resulting in more frequent and devastating forest fires from Canada to California, Spain, Greece, Siberia, and Australia. South Asia is no different. There is still insufficient media coverage of the region's growing peril.

In two ways, forest fires contribute to global warming. Carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas that warms the Earth's atmosphere, is released when forests are burned. Then, because burned trees can no longer absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, forest fires have the potential to destroy one of our most precious carbon sinks.

Droughts Are Becoming More Severe As A Result Of Climate Change

Central Asia saw its worst drought in 13 years in 2021, from the end of June to the end of July. The situation has since calmed down, but the threat still exists - in Central Asia and elsewhere.

Monique Barbut, the former head of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, has stated that illegal immigrants from Africa and the Middle East are flooding Europe.

Climate Change Is Making Coastal Areas More Saline

Another major effect of climate change that people are beginning to see is the salinity of surface water and groundwater around coasts, which is similar to drought. As sea levels rise as a result of climate change, tides bring saltwater inland, polluting freshwater ponds and rendering river water saline upstream.

At the same time, rising sea levels are forcing seawater into aquifers. People who have little choice but to drink more saline water suffer major health consequences, and excessive salinity in the soil can make it hard to cultivate crops. These patterns have been reported on by the Third Pole in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.

Disaster Response And Management

Policymakers all across the world are realising that they can't stop climate change-related disasters. The best they can do is control and prepare for disasters. Experts at the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction have suggested a number of approaches, some of which have been implemented effectively. Heatwave warnings, for example, are becoming more often in South Asia. Flood early warning systems are one example in the Himalayas. Cyclone deaths have decreased dramatically as a result of meteorologists' improved ability to forecast storm tracks with a high degree of accuracy. However, there is a pressing need to develop landslide and forest fire warning systems.

How Do We Know About The Links Between Climate Change And Disasters?

A new academic area, attribution science, has emerged in the last decade. Scientists are now investigating specific disasters to see if there is a link to climate change. Two of the discipline's pioneers are on Time magazine's list of the 100 most important people in the world in 2021.

The May 2015 heatwave in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which killed over 2,500 people, was one of the first attribution studies. According to the findings, climate warming has rendered a similar heatwave 10 times more likely than it was previously.

About the Author: Maham Noor is currently pursuing her degree in the field of Environmental Sciences. She finds her interest in writing green blogs.