CLIMATE CHANGE AND DISASTER

Climate Change is the burning issue of the present. Climate change is causing the hottest years in history, In the past 100 years, the global average temperature has risen by about 0.74 degrees Celsius. It has also resulted in intense and frequent storms and hurricanes, heat waves, snowfalls, intense downpour, etc. This is causing many disasters and problems in many communities of the world. The effect of climate change may be different in different places according to the vulnerability and resilience of the place. Developing countries and countries on the coastline are especially vulnerable as they do not have the necessary policies and technical support to combat the risk of climate change. In order to reduce and minimize the impacts of climate change, it is important to acknowledge the reality of climate change, and have local and global mitigation measures.

Many disasters like intense storms, flash floods, etc. are associated with climate change. Nepal is especially vulnerable to effects of climate change, being a developing country and lacking many technologies to combat with climate change. The effects can be very huge and can hamper local infrastructure as well as long term developmental plans.

Drought is a very serious problem for an agricultural country like Nepal. The 2008/09 winter drought in Nepal was one of the worst on record; according to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, rain monitoring stations across the country received less than 50 percent of average precipitation during the period November 2008 to February 2009. The winter drought had significant impact on crop production across Nepal. This assessment suggests a national decrease in wheat and barley production (the two major winter crops) of 14.5 and 17.3 percent respectively compared to last year. Agricultural situation: Agriculture production contributes to 33 percent of Nepal’s GDP and employs two-thirds of the work force. However, only forty percent of Nepal’s agricultural land is irrigated which means that much of the agricultural output relies on favorable weather conditions, especially during the winter.

Past experience shows that flooding and inundation occur following high intensity rainfall in the Churia hills and Terai. A rainfall intensity of 350 mm for consecutive 48 hours is considered as high intensity rainfall (Sharma 1988). In addition, rainfall exceeding 70 mm per hour is considered as cloudburst rainfall (Gyawali 2011) which disrupts both the slopes and channel equilibrium at the local as well as regional scales. (Raj Adhikari)The changing climate has increased the incidences of flooding and landslides.

The weak topography of hills and mountains in Nepal makes it very vulnerable to landslide. In addition to the weak topography, heavy rainfall also adds to the problem.

Another major problem in Nepal because of climate change is Glacial Lake Outburst Flood. There are many glacial lakes in Nepal and they are in the risk of bursting. This may cause flood in many villages downstream. The Tamor Sub-basin of the Koshi Basin comprises 33 major glacial lakes associated with glaciers. Altogether 14 major glacial lakes are associated with the glaciers within the range of 1 km in the Arun Sub-basin of the Koshi Basin. The Dudh Koshi Sub-basin is the one that contains the highest number of glacial lakes as well as lakes associated with glaciers. The changing climate and increasing global temperature is posing a major threat of these floods.

These four issues can be a major problem if the current trend of global warming and climate change continues.

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