Climate Change

There will be fewer but stronger tropical storms in Ganga, Mekong basins in coming years: Report

Projections crucial for countries in these basins to prepare better mitigation & adaptation strategies

By Preetha Banerjee
Published: Wednesday 13 September 2023
Photo: iStock_

The Ganga and Mekong floodplains will see a reduced frequency of tropical storms but the intensity of such events are projected to go up by 2050, according to a new report. 

A team of researchers led by the Newcastle University studied simulation of tropical storms and projected that their frequency in the two river basins will be halved by 2050. But analysis of high resolution climate models showed that they will simultaneously become stronger in these regions, according to the report published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The largest increases were observed for the most intense storms to strike these regions, the authors noted.

Ganga and Mekong basins are spread over countries like India, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia, which have a rich biodiversity and are also very sensitive to climate change. 

Some of these places have been battered by extreme weather events, threatening their development and economy. “Very intense tropical storms are one of the most damaging natural hazards and can result in massive socio-economic losses to life, infrastructure and property, especially in low-lying delta systems in Bangladesh, Vietnam and the east coast of India,” the authors of the report noted. 

The projections from the new report, thus, become crucial for these densely populated countries to evaluate and improve their preparedness for tropical storms in the future, the researchers wrote. “Knowledge of changes to tropical storms activity under climate change can therefore be helpful in developing better disaster risk mitigation and for climate adaptation,” said Haider Ali from the Newcastle University’s School of Engineering and lead author of the report.

The scientists used climate models with finer resolution than previous studies to capture the key characteristics of tropical storms. 

The findings of the study were in alignment with the trend forecast for the Atlantic Basin, the authors of the report noted. Studies on the Atlantic Basin also indicated the possibility of an overall decline in frequency of tropical storms and cyclones, but an increase in the frequency of the most intense tropical storms, according to Hayley Fowler, professor of Climate Change Impacts, Newcastle University School of Engineering and study author. 

The authors also highlighted the vital role of tropical storms in the overall volume of rainfall received by these regions. These weather events also aid the “transport of sediment to delta regions, especially in the Mekong basin”, they added. 

“Rainfall induced by tropical storms is also useful for irrigation and the recharge of groundwater tables in the cultivation regions of Bangladesh,” the researchers noted in the report.  

But excessive rainfall caused by these storms often cause devastating floods that lead to loss of lives and crops, the authors added.

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