Future super cyclones will expose many more people to extreme flooding in the most vulnerable parts of the world

(ORDO NEWS) — A new study has found that supercyclones, the most intense form of a tropical storm, are likely to have a much more devastating impact on people in South Asia in years to come.

An international study led by the University of Bristol looked at the 2020 Supercyclone Amphan – the most powerful cyclone to hit South Asia – and projected its impact under various scenarios of global warming sea level rise.

A study published today in the Royal Meteorological Society’s Climate Resilience and Sustainability journal showed that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the same rate, more than two and a half times (250%) more of India’s population will face more than 1 meter high flood compared to the 2020 event.

Lead author Dann Mitchell, professor of climatology at Cabot University’s Environment Institute, said: “South Asia is one of the world’s most climate-sensitive regions, with super cyclones on historical occasions causing tens to hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Compared to that, in Very little research has been done on climate impacts in South Asia, despite the fact that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identifies this region as critical.

“This study, carried out in collaboration with local scientists, provides much-needed insight into the impacts of climate in one of the world’s most vulnerable regions.

It represents the most important evidence in support of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, while other evidence too often focused on high-income countries where impacts are lower and adaptation is more easily achievable.”

The researchers, who included scientists from Bangladesh, used sophisticated climate model predictions to predict the extent of cyclone impacts for the remainder of this century.

While Bangladesh is expected to experience more modest growth in the number of people at risk – estimated to increase by 60-70% – this takes into account future declines in coastal populations.

Encouragingly, the research team further showed that if the climate targets of the Paris Agreement of warming 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels are met, then the population’s exposure to flooding there will drop to almost zero.

But even under this warming climate scenario, India’s population’s exposure to floods has still risen alarmingly, with 50% to 80% of the population expected to experience floods in the future.

The main goal of the Paris Agreement, the global framework to combat climate change, is to keep global average temperature rise well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to try to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Saiful Islam, professor of hydrology at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and author of the study, said: “The latest IPCC report states with a high degree of confidence that tropical cyclones with higher intensity categories will occur more frequently in the future.

This study shows that in Bangladesh and India, future exposure to extreme flooding from storm surges (greater than 3 meters) from intense cyclones will increase by up to 200% under high-emission scenarios. Paris Agreement and reduce loss and damage to highly vulnerable countries like Bangladesh.”

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