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Climate Change

Study: Massive super cyclones could leave millions vulnerable to extreme flooding

If carbon emissions keep on rising as quickly as they are now, more than two and a half times more people in India would experience flooding of more than one meter if the same cyclone struck in a warmer world.

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By Gwyn Wright via SWNS

Huge "super cyclones" could leave millions more people vulnerable to extreme flooding in the future, warns a new study.

Scientists say that super cyclones - the most intense type of tropical storm - are likely to have a devastating impact in South Asia as the climate warms.

Greenhouse gas emissions need to be slashed very quickly if devastating impacts are to be avoided, the researchers warn.

For the study, researchers at the University of Bristol looked at the impact of Super Cyclone Amphan, which struck Bangladesh and Eastern India in 2020, and used models to make predictions about what the impacts of the deadly storm would have been at different levels of warming.

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If carbon emissions keep on rising as quickly as they are now, more than two and a half times more people in India would experience flooding of more than one meter if the same cyclone struck in a warmer world.

In Bangladesh, the number of people exposed to flood risk is expected to rise by 60 to 70 percent.

However, this prediction factors in emigration which is expected to take place as the very low lying country warms.

If global temperatures rise by two percent above pre-industrial levels, a target set by the 2015 Paris Agreement, between 50 and 80 percent more Indians will be exposed to flooding than they are now.

Bangladeshis will not be at any greater risk if the target is met.

Lead study author Professor Dann Mitchell said: “South Asia is one of the most climate-sensitive regions in the world, with super cyclones causing tens to hundreds of thousands of deaths in historical cases."

“Comparatively, very little climate impact research has been done in South Asia, despite the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighting it as such a critical region.

“This study, in collaboration with local scientists, provides much-needed climate impact information in one of the most vulnerable regions in the world.

“It presents a critical piece of evidence in support of ramping down our greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the Paris Agreement climate goals, where other lines of evidence all too often focus on high income countries where impacts are lower, and adaptation is more easily achievable.”

Contributing author Dr. Saiful Islam said: “The latest IPCC report has mentioned with high confidence that tropical cyclones with higher intense categories will be more frequent in the future.

“This study shows that population exposure in Bangladesh and India will be increased up to 200 percent in the future for extreme storm surge flooding (greater than three meters) from intense cyclones under high emission scenarios.

“Hence, a strong, rapid and sustained greenhouse gas reduction is essential to achieve goals of the Paris Agreement and to reduce losses and damages of highly vulnerable countries like Bangladesh.”

The findings were published in the journal Climate Resilience and Sustainability.

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