Asia’s Rainy Season, Intensified
Photo by KHAM/REUTERS
In Vietnam, as well as most of Southeast Asia, it is currently rainy season. For those of us living in this area, it means we wear a rain jacket daily and somehow manage to drive a motorbike while being pelted in the face with heavy rain.
But that isn’t the end of the story.
While rainy season is generally a welcome reprieve from the extreme heat of the dry season, the rain causes serious problems for south Asia, including agricultural degradation, major flooding and water contamination. Monsoons in August of this year alone, affected 41 million people in south Asia, killing over 1,200 people and leaving 1.8 million children unable to attend school, mainly in India.
Children in Mumbai’s flooded streets August 29, 2017 Photo by AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade
More recently within the past week in northern Vietnam, flooding has killed over 70 people and thousands are displaced as those living in the area brace for yet another wave of typhoon-induced rains.
Photo by KHAM/REUTERS
You might wonder how in this region of the world we aren’t prepared for such heavy rains. The answer itself could be another blog post, I could discuss the development of these countries or a lack of funding for proper drainage. However, science can also tell us that climate change has affected weather patterns, and will continue to do so.
Climate Change and Weather Patterns
Photo by EPA
According to NASA, Earth’s surface temperature has risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit for my fellow American readers). The team at Waterdrop, full of science and engineer minds, immediately knows what this means. But if you’re like me, maybe 1.1 degree Celsius doesn’t seem like much. It is. Even that small change has led to:
• Ocean warming
• Ice sheets melting
• Snow decreasing
• Sea levels rising
• The number of extreme weather events increasing
Climate Change and Water
Photo by Profimedia.cz
The Earth’s water cycle is intensified by rising temperatures, which increases atmospheric evaporation. As a result, storm-affected areas, those regions who normally succumb to rainy seasons and naturally see thunderstorms, are likely to experience increases in precipitation and an increased risk of flooding, according to NASA. In more layman’s terms:
The rising sea temperatures in South Asia added moisture into the atmosphere, acting as fuel to the fire for the recent monsoons. The rising ocean temperature had the same effect on the other side of the world as evidenced by devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Millions of people in Asia have been displaced, have lost their homes and thousands have died. For those lucky enough to have a home to return to, the story isn’t over. Many of them have another challenge ahead: water pollution.
Flooding and Water Pollution
Photo by Reuters / Samrang Pring, courtesy Trust.org – AlertNet
Floods, even in their aftermath, can have long lasting negative externalities. Flooding can contain runoff from agricultural and industrial sectors that can contain sewage or harmful chemicals from pesticides. Floods carry these harmful pollutants to rivers, ponds and drinking water areas. In low-income areas, especially those in Southeast Asia, this is a problem because those living there lack funding or the means to clean their drinking water properly. Floodwaters can also carry communicable diseases such as cholera or typhoid. While it is quite rare for floods to lead to an epidemic, it is still a high concern for those living in developing countries.
Further, rising sea levels already pollute the ground and the water that many drink. Saltwater contaminates the freshwater and the ground, and it is unsafe to consume. Normally, human kidneys process excess salt out of our body with the aid of freshwater. But if humans only have access to drink saltwater it is too much for our kidneys to handle, and can even be fatal. Floodwaters, especially those in coastal cities, contain salt from the ocean as water is forced onto the land. The waters eventually make their way to rivers and streams and can still affect the water of non-coastal cities.
Waterdrop and Clean Water
For those in southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam, Waterdrop offers hope to those affected by unsafe drinking water, including flood-prone areas. Waterdrop has solutions for desalination, the process of removing unsafe salt from water, as well as a solution using chlorine for water, especially in the context of water that has been still for too long. YOU can help those affected by flooding and polluted waters by going to Waterdrop Vietnam.
Written by Kristin Harper
• http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/31/south-asia-flooding-leaves18-million-children-unable-go-toschool/• https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
• https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/runoff/• http://time.com/4919355/can-flood-water-make-you-sick/
• http://www.businessinsider.com/5-terrifying-impacts-of-rising-sea-levels-2015-2• https://water.usgs.gov/edu/qa-seawater.html