From the beginning of the month, the rainfall was nine times higher than average in Sindh province and five times higher across the whole of Pakistan. Basic physics is the reason rainfall is becoming intense around the world – warmer air holds more moisture.
Scientists are already trying to determine the extent to which global heating is to blame for the rainfall and floods. But analysis of the previous worst flood in 2010 suggests it will be significant. That “superflood” was made more likely by global heating, which drove fiercer rains.
Warmer oceans and heating in the Arctic were implicated in the 2010 superflood, one study found, as these factors affected the jet stream, a high-level wind that circles the planet. The greater meandering of the jet stream led to both the prolonged rain in Pakistan and an extreme heatwave in Russia that year.
And according to a 2021 study global heating is making the south Asian monsoon more intense and more erratic, with each 1C rise in global temperature leading to 5% more rain.
Pakistan has suffered regular flooding since 2010, as well as heatwaves and wildfires. “Climate change is really affecting us,” said Saeed. “It has become a norm now that every year we kind of face extreme events.”