Weather Notebook
Bryan Yeaton

Bangladesh Floods

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Hi, I'm Bryan Yeaton and this is the weather notebook's weekly segment on global climate change. In 1998, a devastating monsoon season in Bangladesh left nearly 70% of the country underwater for two months. As Manisha Aryal reports today, that flood caused lots of damage and raised fears about future monsoons.

Flooding is a annual occurence in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a Delta country. Three great Himalayan Rivers -- the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghana -- pass through the country and drain into the Bay of Bengal. If one were to collect the total volume of water that passes through Bangladesh annually and average it out, the entire country would be 9 meters under water throughout the year.

Bangladeshis know how to live with large amounts of water on their land says Mafoojul Haq of the Bangladesh Government's Ministry of Environment and Forests.

MH: Flood is nothing new to us. We commute from one place to another in boats. When it is not devastating, we are not worried.

But the floods that followed in the wake of 1998 monsoon was anything but ordinary...

MH: Two thirds of Bangladesh was inundated and it remained under water for 2 long months. That was a real nightmare for us. Now with global warming, natural disasters will increase -- both in intensity of flooding cyclones and tidal bore will increase.

... and wreak havoc, they believe, in a country where a large percentage of the 131 million residents live in coastal areas. Scientists in Bangladesh link the devastating floods of 1998 on the change in global climate. They believe that the increase in flood flows in the three big rivers that pass through Bangladesh is due to the increase in snow melt in the Himalayas and enhanced monsoon rainfall; both effects are believed to be a direct result of global warming.

For The Weather Notebook, I'm Manisha Aryal in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Our series on global climate change is generously supported by the New England Science Center Collaborative and the Roy A. Hunt foundation.

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