Climate change impact: Another devastating heatwave expected in Karachi this summer
ISLAMABAD: On the face of increasing climate changes, the government is expecting a dangerous ‘heatwave’ this summer like last year when a historic sustained wave had worst hit the Sindh province, especially Port city of Karachi which took lives of more than 1,200 persons.
Last year, in the second half of June, a record sizzling heatwave was experienced in the major metropolitan city of Karachi and other districts of southern Sindh province when the temperature rose to 46 degree Celsius, just short of an all-time high in the city in June 1979.
The Ministry of Climate Change to sensitize the provinces has written letters to all the federating units to be ready and take precautionary measures to cope with such possible occurrence, as according to climate experts, last year’s occurrence was exacerbated by lack of preparedness.
Karachi, the home to around 20 million people (one-tenth of country’s total population) is again under a potential threat, power utility i.e. K-Electric is also need to prepare itself for the possible emergency and also the city administration, otherwise the fatalities could be more than last year, if the event occurred, a senior official in the ministry told ‘The News’ on Wednesday.
In June 2015, frequent power outages also lead to worse high temperatures and also crippled the city’s water supply system, hampering the pumping of millions of gallons water to consumers which ultimately sparked mass protests in several parts of the city.
Like last year, due to low green spaces, high-rise concrete structures and industrial waste emission, the urban heat island (UHI) — a scenario when the metropolitan is significantly warmer than surrounding areas due to human activities— could also adversely affect the city environment.
Being a coastal city, although Karachi temperature remains moderate due to high heat absorbing capacity of the sea, but now due to climate changes, ‘wind lock’ events could occur frequently and aggravate the situation in the presence of high humidity and dense population.
Shahbaz Mehmood, a climate scientist at the state-owned Global Change Impact Study Centre in Islamabad says, “due to global warming, probability of extreme events’ occurrence has increased in Pakistan. Over the past several years, frequency of occurrence of extreme weather events, with floods, droughts and heatwaves are becoming more intense and frequent. Under the changing environment, there is need of mass awareness, better urban planning and preparedness to tackle such events.”
The city administration should take advisory from the meteorological department time to time and take its forecast serious to quickly prepare itself for coping with any such occurrence. The climate is so much fast changing that there could at one time worst heatwave, and after day or two, a heavy rain be experienced.
“With the every passing year, response time has been squeezing due to this fast changing climate,” he said. Last year in April and May, the neighbouring India’s many parts were also hit by intense heatwave and caused the death of more than 2,000 people.