Impacts of Climate Change on Water Resources of Pakistan


Climate Change and Water Resources – Why has water become so scarce in Pakistan and the reason behind it

Although water scarcity is a global issue, this is particularly an alarming concern in countries where population growth is rapidly increasing. Pakistan is also a highly water stressed country because of this reason. Karachi in Particular has been suffering from water shortage because of over-population and water pollution of the Karachi coast. Annually, around 0.6 million people migrate to the city where the need for water cannot be met for the existing population due to poor sewage systems, water sanitation plants as well as lack of infrastructure, thus resulting in further shortage.

You may also want to read, The Projected Future of Water Scarcity in Pakistan

The reason behind water stress is usually a combination of the two: Physical Scarcity of water where naturally clean water source is not available due to less rainfall and other ecological conditions locally; and Economic Scarcity when there is no proper structure or facilities to treat water and make it safe for drinking for the general public. The main reasons why Pakistan has a water shortage crisis is because of overpopulation, mismanagement, rapid unchecked urbanization of cities and most importantly climatic changes that result in floods, drought etc. that already aggravate this existing problem.

Related: Pakistan Flood Mitigation Measures and Disaster Management

Flash Floods- Causes, Effects, Prevention and Management

Effects of Climate Change of Water Resources of Pakistan:

  1. Impacts on Glaciers: CO2 emissions and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that have raised the temperature of the Earth resulting in climate change. Due to this, the rise in temperature has caused the glaciers around the world to melt rapidly. This is because even a slight change in temperature is enough to impact the glaciers and they start to melt and flows onto land surfaces causing  sea levels to rise worldwide thus, this results in even more problems. It causes many disasters such as the recent Floods in Pakistan which was driven by climate change partially due to the melting of Himalayan Glacier and unusual monsoon season– another result of climate change. On the other hand, in regions abundant with glaciers, this melting can cause droughts especially communities living on mountains reliant on melted water for their needs. For more detailed info, read: Glacier Melting and Glacial Retreat – Causes, Effects, Solutions
    Third Pole Is Melting – Himalaya-HinduKush-Karakoram Glacier and Glacial Lake Outburst Floods In Pakistan- Causes and Effects.
  2. Impacts on Lakes: as climate change results in warmer temperatures, this results in warmer waters which slows down the rate of oxygen absorption in the lakes as when temperature of the water increases, oxygen absorption is decreased. Therefore this results in these regions becoming dead zones as no aerobic microorganisms can survive in it. This is very harmful for the water quality of the lakes as reduced BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) disrupts entire food webs and results in higher aquatic life mortality. You might also like: 12 Most Beautiful And Unique Lakes in the World in Pictures
  3. Impacts on Rivers/Streams: as the banks of rivers and streams are where usually most agriculture takes place in Pakistan since the soil is highly fertile; therefore, the rising sea levels will cause more water to flow into rivers as well and as a result, unavoidably the rivers will overflow, cause flood and massive disasters take place especially for the communities living around it. Moreover, after the flood, the river will not be able to make up its water level and this will cause the aquatic life to suffer as well as all the harmful pollutants cannot be diluted. Not only is the stream or water flow is affected but the living beings including humans that rely on it for sustenance will suffer for the worst of it. You might also like: Pakistan’s Living Indus Initiative And Its Importance and Problems and Degradation Of The Indus River System (IRS)
  4. Impacts on Mangroves/Wetlands: Pakistan has 4 major wetlands which are already threatened and Mangroves are found in Sindh and Balochistan coastlines, where Coastal erosion- meaning that due to sea level rise the increased  high tides and waves carry away fertile top soil which is harmful for the mangroves. It is the main impact of the climate change on mangroves and wetlands in Pakistan. Increasing temperatures and changing storm & rainfall pattern are affecting the mangroves and wetlands negatively. Also read: Mangroves of Pakistan – Types, Importance, and Environmental degradation and Freshwater Wetland Ecosystem of Pakistan – Climatic Biome.                                                                
  5. Impacts on Arabian Sea: Pakistan’s Territorial waters open up into the Arabian sea from the Karachi coast. Thus, changes in the sea will spell negative consequences for us as well. The main impacts would be extreme weather events and rough waves that can pose a threat of flooding and cyclones for Pakistan. Also read: Marine and Coastal Ecosystem of Pakistan – Climatic Biome and Climate Change Impacts on Coastal Areas and Marine Resources of Pakistan
  6. Impacts on Freshwater & Groundwater: in many areas where groundwater is used as a drinking source, floods due to climate change may result in submerged lands and thus the groundwater tables and freshwater sources will become extremely scarce as the availability of groundwater will be reduced due to lands being submerged with salty water.

You might also be interested in reading: Water Crisis in Pakistan- Current and Future.

There is a dire need for us to manage the water crisis. The problem is not that there is not enough rainfall in Pakistan for water scarcity to occur, but the fact that due to political interests and corruption, proper development of infrastructure, sewage systems and sanitation facilities have been neglected. It is high time that Pakistan solves this problem before it is further aggravated by Climate Change.

Also check out: Water Scarcity Crisis in Pakistan- Causes, Effects and Solutions

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