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Soaring Temperatures and Dwindling Rainfall May Lead to Flash Droughts

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has issued a warning about the likely emergence of a flash drought in Pakistan, particularly affecting the southern regions. This warning follows an extended period of below-normal rainfall and exceptionally high temperatures throughout May, characterized by a persistent heatwave.

Flash droughts occur when a combination of low rainfall and unusually high temperatures, such as those experienced during heatwaves, arises over a short period. These droughts develop and intensify rapidly, often within just weeks or even days. The swift changes can lead to a significant increase in evapotranspiration rates, quickly depleting the topsoil’s available water.

May saw 64% less rainfall than normal, a trend expected to persist into the current month, according to a report by Business Recorder.

Typically, May and June are the hottest months in the region, with a higher likelihood of heatwaves. Over the past three weeks, both daytime and nighttime temperatures have surged abruptly, resulting in multiple heatwave episodes. This rapid temperature rise has increased land surface temperatures and evaporative demands, causing soil moisture stress.

Sources indicate that drought-prone districts in southern Pakistan—including Sindh, Balochistan, and southern Punjab, as well as areas like Tharparkar, Cholistan, and Thal—are likely to experience flash drought conditions soon.

Based on climatology and current weather forecasts for June, PMD sources predict that drought conditions will worsen, adversely affecting agriculture, water resources, and livestock before the onset of the summer monsoon.

Flash droughts can significantly impact agriculture, water resources, and ecosystems. These quickly developing droughts can lead to crop failures, wildfires, and water scarcity.

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