According to Bangladesh Meteorological Department, last year lightning occurred 20 per cent more than normal. Deaths caused by lightening were also 10 per cent more than the previous years, according to the disaster management and relief ministry.

Meteorologist Abdul Mannan said temperature will remain higher than normal in the mainland and the Bay of Bengal since January. That’s why more lightening may strike, he added.

Fear of more floods

In 2018, Bangladesh Meteorological Department and the Norwegian Meteorological Institute conducted joint research on the impact of climate change in Bangladesh. It revealed that currently, more rainfall occurs at the beginning and at the end of the rainy season in Bangladesh.

Last year, rainfall was recorded higher than the usual. At the beginning of the rainy season, rainfall was 35 per cent higher than usual while it was 11 per cent more throughout the entire season. Crops were damaged at the beginning of the last year’s rainy season.

Last year, floods hit in five phases. This lasted for 41 days. The second-longest-lasting flood of the country reduced the production of aman paddy by 1.5 million (15 lakh) tonnes, resulting in exorbitant rise in rice prices in the country. The government was compelled to import rice after three years.

The Food and Agriculture Organization, in its La Nina forecast report, said the years of 2012 and 2017 were La Nina years. Heavy rainfalls caused floods in the South Asian countries in those years. So production of rice and wheat dropped and prices of these food grains increased. The UN organisation fears a repeat this year.

Regarding preparedness, professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET)’s Flood and Water Management Institute, Saiful Islam, told Prothom Alo other than La Nina, rise in global warming has increased floods. That’s why focus should be given on innovating paddy varieties that will ripen before floods arrive in April.

Climate experts said only innovating paddy varieties that can adapt to the climate change will not be enough. The forecasting system for disasters including floods, cyclones and heavy rainfall must be improved. At first, all will have to work to tackle climate change – limiting the global warming to 2° Celsius within this century. Like all countries, Bangladesh has to play a role in implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Professor emeritus at BRAC University, Ainun Nishat, told Prothom Alo the agriculture sector suffered maximum damage due to unusual behavior of weather last year. This time, the impact of weather and climate change must also be kept in mind in all plans including agriculture and development work to move ahead, he added.

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna

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