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Extreme fluctuations between drought and flooding are devastating communities at greatest risk of climate change impacts, new research reveals

2023-11-30  |   Editor : houxue2018  
Category : News


A 'whiplash' of extreme climate pressures has had a devastating effect on communities around the world since the turn of the century, new research has found. The team, led by researchers at Cardiff University and the University of Bristol and commissioned by WaterAid, examined the frequency and magnitude of flooding and drought hazards over the last 41 years in Pakistan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mozambique, adding Italy for a European comparison to show the impacts of climate change do not discriminate by region.


Their findings, which combine satellite imagery with climate data, reveal a 'climate hazard flip' - with areas that used to experience frequent droughts now more prone to flooding, while other regions historically vulnerable to flooding now enduring more droughts. These communities are often ill-equipped to deal with such extremes in weather which can wipe out crops and livelihoods, damage often-fragile water supply infrastructure, disrupt water supply services, and expose people to disease and death. From flood protection to drought resistance measures – adaptation solutions exist, but the team claims not enough is being done to prepare for the future.

They say scaling up and optimising water-related investments in low and middle-income countries will not only save lives, it will boost economic prosperity – with analysis suggesting it can deliver at least $500 billion a year in economic value.

Co-lead researcher Professor Katerina Michaelides, Professor of Dryland Hydrology at the University of Bristol Cabot Institute for the Environment, added: "We have come to understand that climate change will not lead to a monolithic change to climatic hazards, despite globally increasing temperatures. Instead, the hazard profile for any region is likely to change in unpredictable ways.

"We are in total confusion. The months that used to be rainy are now dry. When the rains come, they can be short yet heavy, leading to floods," he said. "On other occasions the rainy periods are too long, leading to destruction of infrastructure and crop failure. And then the dry periods can be very long, further leading to crop failure and hunger."

Two measures the local community have tried to mitigate the climate uncertainty are to plant hedges around their crops to help prevent soil erosion and to move latrines well away from potential flood zones. One person spoke of planting bamboo forests on the slopes of nearby Mount Elgon to try to prevent landslides.

They say investment in water security for low- and middle-income countries must also be rapidly scaled up. Mr Wainwright added: "COP28 is only two weeks away and it cannot be another summit where the climate adaptation can is kicked down the road. Our leaders must recognise the urgency and prioritise investment into robust and resilient water systems now."


CARDIFF UNIVERSITY,-new-research-reveals .

Provided by the IKCEST Disaster Risk Reduction Knowledge Service System

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