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IRI Climate Digest   July 2005

Climate Impacts - June

Contributions to this page were made by IRI researchers
M. Bell, Dr. A. Giannini, E. Grover-Kopec,
Dr. B. Lyon, C. Ropelewski, Dr. A. Seth

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Hazards/Threats

Asia - Afghanistan,Kyrgyzstan,Pakistan,Tajikistan  Spring snowmelt following record winter snowfalls and heavy rain has continued to contribute to flooding in Southwest Asia (April 2005 CID). Rapid snowmelt has come as a result of abnormally-high spring temperatures. (June Temperature Anomaly Map) In Afghanistan, 48 people have been killed and another 1000 people have been injured in 13 provinces. The northeastern province of Badakhshan, where 40 people were killed and nearly 1000 homes were destroyed, is among those worst hit by the flooding. (IRIN) Damage from flooding during mid-June in Kyrgyzstan is estimated to be around USD 3 million. The southern portion of the country has experienced more than 100 landslides and floods in recent months, according to the Kyrgyz emergency ministry. Crop losses from these events has contributed to the projected wheat shortage of 9,800 metric tons. (IRIN, ReliefWeb Map) Approximately 8000 people were evacuated and thousands of hectares of agricultural land were submerged due to flooding in southeastern Tajikistan (AFP).

Some of the worst flooding in the region, however, has occurred in northern Pakistan. At least 30 people have been killed and 460,000 people have been affected in NWFP, Punjab and Sindh. Most of the worst hit areas are in Punjab where 17 deaths were reported and more than 400,000 of the affected people reside. More than 20,000 homes were destroyed in 900 Punjabi villages and 600,000 acres of crops suffered moderate to extensive damage. Another 350,000 hectares of crop have been submerged in NWFP. While cotton, which serves a vital role in some the local economies, was among the worst hit crops, fodder, maize, rice paddy, sugarcane and vegetables were also affected. Approximately 6500 and 5000 people have been affected in Sindh and NWFP, respectively. (IRIN, IFRC, IRIN, Oxfam)

Asia - India  Flooding associated with heavy monsoon rainfall (June 2005 Precipitation Anomaly) over the course of several days in late June and early July (Estimated Precipitation Animation) in the western state of Gujarat killed at least 226 people and left about 400,000 people homeless, according to several reports (OCHA, IFRC, Reuters, Reuters). Some of the worst-affected districts include Vadodara, Anand, Kheda, Saurastra, and Nadiad (ReliefWeb Map). The Indian military was employed in efforts to deliver relief supplies and rescue people who had been stranded by the flooding. Civil authorities also set up relief camps and distributed food and other supplies, and the national government allocated about US$115 million in preliminary aid. Reports indicated that some villages were entirely submerged, and industrial production had completely stopped in some areas. Flooding disrupted rail (IFRC) and highway traffic in parts of Gujarat. One early estimate placed flood-related losses at about US$ 2.3 billion.

Another flooding event in northern India killed at least six people and left thousands of people stranded. The flooding occurred after water trapped behind landslide debris blocking the Parechu River in Tibet rose and burst through the obstruction (NASA). The water rushed downstream into the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, destroying bridges, roads, and houses, and causing an estimated US$ 186 million in damage. About 5000 people in the area were evacuated (AFP). According to a media report, officials believed that above-normal temperatures (June 2005 Temperature Anomaly) and the large amount of resulting snowmelt caused the water level to rise and break through the dam (AFP).

Asia - China  Seasonal flooding and landslides, which have affected 90 million people thus far, continued to affect portions of China during June. According to the most recent information made available by Xinhua (17 July report), 794 people have been killed and nearly 200 people remain missing. Approximately 7 million hectares of crops and over 700,000 homes have been destroyed. Direct economic losses have been estimated to be as much as USD 5.8 billion. Impacts from the flooding and landslides have been reported in 27 provinces, although the southern and eastern provinces of Anhui, Fuijan, Guagxi, Henan, Hunan, Jiangxi and Sichuan were among those most affected. (AFP) The government of China has been mobilizing efforts to curtail the spread of water-borne diseases in flood-affected areas, the risk of which is higher than normal due to the abnormally high temperatures that have accompanied much of the flooding. According to the Ministry of Health, nearly 3400 cases of cholera, dysentery and typhoid fever had been reported through June. (AFP)

Among the flood and slide disasters that occurred during June were events in the south and northeast. Heavy rainfall during the first few days of June sparked severe flooding and landslides in the southern provinces of Hunan, Guizhou and Sichuan. Approximately 9.8 million people were affected and 116 related deaths were reported. The flooding and landslides affected infrastructure as well; 300,000 homes and 87,000 hectares of crops were destroyed and 513,000 hectares of crops were damaged. Total economic losses were estimated to be USD 383 million (OCHA). In the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, 92 people were killed when a flood swept through an elementary school. Eighty-eight of the deaths were children from the school, and another 17 children were still missing as of the latest reports. (AFP) Other events during June and early July included those in the provinces of Guangxi (Xinhua, IFRC), Sichuan (Xinhua) and Shaanxi (Xinhua).

While heavy rainfall has caused flooding and landslides in the south and northeast, abnormally warm conditions (Apr-June Temperature Anomaly Map) and below-average precipitation is also affecting portions of eastern China. Agricultural output is reportedly at risk in the province of Jiangsu due to a significant decrease in reservoir levels there following poor seasonal rainfall. (April-June 3-month WASP Index Map) Farmers have had to postpone fall sowing due to the dry conditions. Above-normal temperatures have also further taxed China's over-stressed electricity infrastructure, contributing to power shortages (Reuters/CNN).

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast gives a slightly-enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation for sections of central and eastern China for the August-October 2005 period.

North America - Canada  Several episodes of heavy rainfall during the month of June (June 2005 1-Month WASP Index Map) led to repeated flooding in the Canadian province of Alberta. Near the middle of the month, about 2000 people in the city of Calgary were asked to evacuate their homes due to flooding along the Bow and Elbow Rivers (CBC). A number of highways outside the city were cut off due to high floodwaters, and the mayor of Calgary declared a state of emergency. The June 2005 rainfall total in Calgary exceeded the previous record of 224 mm. Flooding also forced several hundred people from their homes in the villages of Cumberland House and First Nation (CBC), and flooding along the Highwood River inundated the town of High River three times during the month of June (CBC). Insurers estimate that they will pay about CAD 217.5 million in damage claims, and the Insurance Bureau of Canada has estimated that uninsurable damages will total another CAD 100 million to CAD 200 million. If these numbers hold, the June flooding will rank as the costliest natural disaster ever to affect Alberta (Calgary Herald).

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast indicates a slightly-enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation for parts of northern and central Alberta during the August-October 2005 season.

Health

Africa - Guinea,Guinea-Bissau  Heavy seasonal rains have contributed to cholera outbreaks in Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. As of 11 July, 49 deaths and nearly 2,400 infections had been reported in the neighboring countries. Cholera is generally associated with poor sanitation and polluted drinking water, which is a common problem during the rainy season in portions of West Africa. According to health officials in Guinea-Bissau, most of the 2000 reported infections have been concentrated near the capital city of Bissau. In an effort to keep the outbreak from spreading, checkpoints have been set up near Bissau's airport by the Ministry of Health. Portugal has also sent 15 tons of drugs and medical equipment to Guinea-Bissau in response to the emergency. Most of the 398 reported cases in Guinea have occurred in Daara, a village 400 km from Conakry. (IRIN, IRIN, IRIN, Reuters)

According to the latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast, there is a moderate likelihood of above-normal precipitation in Guinea-Bissau and western Guinea during the August-October 2005 season, which includes the last half of the summer rainy season.

Asia - Bangladesh,India,Pakistan  The delayed advance of the southwest monsoon over South Asia (IMD) allowed the heatwave that began in May (June 2005 CID) to continue well into June, particularly in northern and eastern India (June 2005 Temperature Anomaly Map), where daily high temperatures in some cities exceeded 45C for several days (Bhubaneshwar Temperature Time Series). Media sources reported temperatures in excess of 50C in West Bengal and Orissa and water shortages in New Delhi (AFP). As of 25 June, as many as 334 people in India had been killed by the extreme temperatures (AFP). 137 of the deaths occurred in the eastern state of Orissa. Most of those killed have been children, elderly, or poor individuals lacking shelter or drinking water (BBC). Across South Asia, the death toll may exceed 400; heat related deaths have also been reported in Pakistan (particularly Punjab) and Bangladesh (Reuters, AP).

Water Resources

Europe - France,Italy,Portugal,Spain  Reports of drought-related impacts have continued to come out of southern Europe (Reference Map), much of which has experienced below-normal rainfall since November 2004 (June 2005 CID). Agriculture and water resources in Spain, Portugal and France have been worst hit by the dry conditions, and recent abnormally-high temperatures have reportedly exacerbated the situation in many areas (June 2005 Temperature Anomaly Map; AFP). In Spain, a lack of water is risking the livelihood of 70,000 families in the region of Murcia which, along with the regions of Almeria and Alicante, account for 72 and 90 percent of the country's fruit and vegetable exports, respectively (AFP). Fires have also continued to be a problem in the region. Thirteen people have been killed by fires in Portugal, Spain and Italy, 11 of whom were volunteer firemen in central Spain who were killed in a fire that burned 13,000 hectares in early July. 30,000 hectares of land have been burned since the beginning of the year in Portugal (AFP, AP/CNN). Estimates indicated the lack of rain has caused more than 1 billion euros in damage and lost income in Portugal (AFP).

A slightly-enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation for sections of southern Portugal and southwestern Spain during the August-October 2005 season is included in the latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast. However, climatologically, this region receives only a small fraction of its annual precipitation during this three-month period.

Agriculture

Africa - Mali,Niger  Farmers in areas of Niger and Mali that were affected by the drought and locust invasion during the 2004 rainy season are having difficulty obtaining seeds to plant this year's crop. In Niger, the 223,000 ton grain shortfall in the 2004 harvest was the largest production deficit in 20 years. According to WFP, in the drought-affected regions of the two countries, only about half the land that was planted with crops last year has been planted so far this year. Additionally, although the 2005 rainy season in the Sahel appears to have started well (April-June 2005 WASP Index Map, Reuters), pastoralists and their livestock have suffered from a lack of pasture during the past year (IRIN). The poor health conditions of the herds have led to very low prices for livestock at the same time that cereal prices are as much as 45 percent higher than last year (FEWS Net). These circumstances have made access to food very difficult in pastoral and agropastoral regions of Mali and Niger and led to increasing rates of malnutrition (IRIN). About 3.6 million people in Niger are currently facing severe food shortages (BBC).

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast for Sahelian West Africa indicates a slightly- to moderately-enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation for the August-October 2005 season (the last half of the rainy season).

Africa - Africa: Southern  More than 10 million people in six countries in Southern Africa will need international assistance to meet their food needs until the next expected harvest in May 2006 due in part to dry weather during key parts of the latest rainy season in Southern Africa, according to a recent report by WFP. Below-normal precipitation in some countries in the region between January and March (Jan-Mar 2005 Precipitation Anomaly, 3-Month WASP Index) severely affected the development of the maize crop (May 2005 CID), the staple food in the region, and reduced output from other crops as well. A lack of agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizer, and the effects of HIV/AIDS and poverty also contributed to this year's poor harvest in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe (Reference Map). Collectively, these countries will need to commercially import about 2.8 million tons of food, and the international community may need to provide about 730,000 tons of food aid. FAO and WFP have made an immediate appeal for about US$266 million in food aid (IRIN). In Malawi, the maize harvest was the smallest since 1992 and will meet only 37 percent of the average national consumption for the year; a lack of foreign exchange may also restrict the amount of food the country is able to commercially import (IRIN).

Europe - Bulgaria  Flooding that occurred in Bulgaria as a result of heavy rains and snowmelt continued to affect the country during June (June 2005 CID Report). The rainfall that sparked flooding in May and June was called the heaviest in 50 years by officials (May-June 2005 Precipitation Percentiles Maps). The worst affected areas included the districts of Rousse, Lovech, Vratsa, Montana, Stara Zagora, Sofia, Pleven, Targovishte, and Shoumen, and about 25 percent of the country's population has been affected by the flooding and landslides. In Rousse, up to 40 percent of the vineyard crops were destroyed. In all, approximately 16,500 hectares of crops were destroyed from mid-May to early June, most of which were wheat, maize, barley and sunflowers. This year's wheat harvest is expected to be quite poor, contributing to a 40 percent projected increase in bread prices. Infrastructure has also been affected by more recent flooding in early July. Reports indicate that 52 bridges were destroyed and 6300 homes were damaged or destroyed. (AFP, Capital Weekly)


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