South Asia

Published: Friday 15 April 2005

Dhaka warms up: Bangladesh has experienced its shortest winter in a decade and scientists suspect global warming to be the cause behind this. Media reports quoted Taslima Imam, a meteorologist in the country's Meteorological Department, pointing out that winter in tropical Bangladesh normally starts on December 1 and lasts till February 28. But this year, it was over by February 5.

"We're baffled...Usually in winter, we have around eight-nine severe to mild cold waves. This winter there were only two moderate cold waves lasting only three days," Imam said. Scientists are assessing the weather data to determine the cause of the change. Its relation to global warming could be traced from the World Meteorological Organization's forecast that 2005 will be a warm year. Prior to the winter season, Bangladesh experienced its heaviest rainfall in 50 years and floods that submerged nearly 38 per cent of the country and killed about 500 people. But the winter rainfall was less than half of the average.

Karachi chokes: Karachi's air has witnessed an almost 100 per cent increase in the level of carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxide and lead in the past six years, according to the initial reports of the city's air quality assessment. The evaluation is being made by Pakistan's Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission (Suparco), at the behest of the City District Government Karachi (CDGK). The move is part of CDGK's efforts to prepare a comprehensive transport plan for the city, plagued by congestion and pollution.

"The parts per million molecular prevalence of CO in the ambient air of Liaquatabad alone has risen to 13-14, as compared to five-six mentioned in a 1998 study," Badar Ghauri, head of Suparco's space and atmospheric research, says. The threshold limit for CO is 10 parts per million molecules. Suparco's scientists have identified 28 busiest traffic spots for collecting data, which would include vehicle count as well as blood sampling of 25 people from each spot. They also plan to study the impact of the pollution on the vegetation and will collect leaves for the purpose.

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