Written by Madhav Bahl, a grade 11 student.
This article is part of a series on climate change and its impact on India and the world
Floods have been creating havoc in cities across the world. Why is this happening? Is it because of climate change? We look at it today.
In the last two articles we covered how climate change has affected India, but the issue is so much bigger than that. Over the last few weeks there have been more than hundred deaths due to floods in Asia with hundreds of thousands evacuated as well.
Floods have happened on such a large scale over some of the most developed countries in Asia like India, Japan, China and South Korea which has been a reason for concern.
Why did floods take place in these countries?
Floods in India
India receives a lot of its non monsoon rain due to the Westerly Jet Stream. Due to the La Niña – an oceanic pattern that causes fluctuations in ocean temperatures – the Westerly’s have become more unpredictable, and its effect has been magnified by the Northern Atlantic Oscillation and the deviation of the Polar Jet Streams.
This resulted in the delay of the Western Disturbances caused by the Westerly Jet Stream which in turn led to the Western Disturbances interacting with the monsoon winds which further led to an excess of moisture and heavy rains causing floods, mainly due to improper planning.
Japan has really heavy rains due to there being cold air from the North and warm air from the South coming toward Japan which collide and lead to heavy rains. This is because most of the moisture is held by the warm air which cools when in contact with the cool air and turns the moisture into water droplets which lead to heavy rainfall.
This effect causes heavy rain but this year’s floods have been caused due to another reason.
The Westerly Jet Stream blows through Japan carrying moisture. It generally moves from the west to east across Japan. This means that the rain is distributed among various East Asian countries as the moisture is shared.
This year however the Westerly winds meandered south leading to the rain that was shared to now happen in a Northern Line across Japan leading to extremely heavy rainfall.
This led to many parts of Japan that don’t receive a lot of rainfall to do so. Many cities had higher than usual rainfall, one such city being Kurume which recorded the highest amount of precipitation in a day with a record 402.55mm of rainfall.
The increasing temperature has also led to higher amounts of moisture being held in clouds making it the perfect time for The Pacific Anticyclones that change the monsoon winds to come into play.
However, the Pacific Anticyclones that mark the end of the Japanese rainy season by pushing the rain northward have stayed at the same position leading to the prolonged monsoon season in Japan .
The pressure and temperature differences that affect anticyclones can also be attributed to global warming making Japan a vulnerable country during the rainy season in the future.
China is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and contributes to 1/4th of the total carbon emissions. Like other countries:China has been affected by the Westerly Winds which have caused problems throughout Asia.
Though the biggest problem that China has is its rapid urbanisation leading to unsustainable development which leaves it vulnerable to various disasters that are caused by carbon emissions.
Global warming leading to warmer air and higher moisture keeping capacity has made rains heavier throughout East Asia. Also, as China has a lot of mountainous regions it is more vulnerable to landslides.
While the flood in Yaan City was not as disastrous as others that have occurred previously in China there were still more than 40,000 people who were evacuated due to there being 300.07 mm of rain in the city located in the Sichuan province of China.
Meteorologists say that China is potentially going to face a lot of natural disasters in the comingweeks because ofuneven distribution of rain due to global warming leading to landslides and floods. This point is easily proven as while some parts of China were flooding others had record heat waves like in Beijing and other regions.
South Korea, like other countries in Asia, is suffering from the same problems but the unexpected nature of the casualties was an extra cause of concern for the country. Thousands were evacuated and 39 people died due to heavy rains and subsequent flooding of various areas in South Korea.
Out of these 39 people, 13 were killed in one incident in a tunnel located in the central city of Cheongju in Korea. This incident happened because a riverbank broke due to heavy rainfall and that led to the water filling an underpass to its ceiling and also the death of 13 people with the rescue operation for the last person missing still on the way.
This is extremely concerning as river banks don’t generally break due to heavy rainfall- showing that the river bank in question was eroded. This is a clear indicator of unsustainable development as the breathing space of a river, which is what a river uses when it is overfull, was taken for development and the people travelling in the tunnel paid a heavy price.
All these incidents show that global warming is not a thing for the future and is affecting us in catastrophic ways. Action is required both in the short and long term as we are given countless warnings of what our future holds if we don’t mend our ways and continue to disrespect nature.
As the saying goes, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”. We need to act now and leave the earth a better place for the future generations.
This article is part of a series on climate change and its impact on India and the world. If you wish to write for I Kid You Not as well, you can submit an article or an idea here
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