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Study Finds Human Actions Speed Up Climate-Driven Floods, Droughts

A new study has found that streams altered by human activity are at a higher risk of flooding

Study Finds Human Actions Speed Up Climate-Driven Floods, Droughts
t is important to recognize human modifications of the landscape often amplify the effects of climate change on streamflow, say researchers

Washington: A new study has found that streams altered by human activity are at a higher risk of flooding. The research was published in the journal Nature Sustainability. The study from the University of Waterloo analyzed the seasonal flow patterns of 2,272 streams in Canada and the U.S. and found that human-managed streams – those impacted by developments like dams, canals, or heavy urbanization – had significantly different flow patterns compared to streams in natural watersheds.

Also Read: US Climate Envoy Kerry Says China, India, Russia Must Do More To Tackle Warming

Greater flow increases in managed watersheds indicate more severe flooding — possibly as a result of the increased paved surfaces in urban regions. Flow dampening on the other hand can lead to water shortages and a loss in biodiversity in managed streams.

The study used natural watersheds untouched by human activity to measure the impact of climate change on streamflow. Using them as a baseline, the researchers then compared flow in managed streams within a radius of 115 kilometres to measure the impact of human developments.

Compared to their natural neighbours, about 48 per cent of the human-altered streams had significant increases in seasonal flow trends, while 44 per cent showed a significant decrease in the seasonal flow tends. We used machine learning to show conclusively that these changes are caused by human activity, said Nitin Singh, a postdoctoral fellow in Waterloo’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and lead author of this work.

While previous studies have looked at stream flows at the annual scale, this study considers seasonal effects like spring flooding and summer droughts, which are critical for water management.

It is important to recognize human modifications of the landscape often amplify the effects of climate change on streamflow. We need to take responsibility to manage our landscape sustainably because it’s not just climate that is changing it, said Nandita Basu, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Also Read: Meet Medha Priya, An Architect, Who Is Fighting Climate Change By Making Green & Sustainable Buildings

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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