The Stream, June 9, 2020: Melting Glaciers Raise Flood Risk in Pakistani Villages

The Global Rundown

Glaciers continue to melt in Pakistan’s mountain regions, but efforts to set up flood warning systems in surrounding villages falter. Bathing water quality across Europe is high, a new analysis by the EU environment agency finds. A new study warns that the number of people facing water stress across the globe could double by 2050. Recent dam failures in Midland County, Michigan, cause $27 million in damage to roads and bridges. Tropical storm Cristobal hits the U.S. Gulf coast, with rains expected to move northward over the next several days. 

“The flood water broke all the retaining walls that were built last year in order to protect the village. Now there is a ravine right next to our houses and we live in dread of another flood.” —Ghulam Qadir, a resident of Hassanabad, Pakistan, a small village in the mountainous Hunza District. Pakistan is home to thousands of Himalayan glaciers, but many are melting, a situation that is causing glacial lakes and streams to overflow. To help protect villages from the resulting floods, early warning systems are planned in 24 northern valleys, but bureaucratic delays, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, are hampering efforts. Reuters

In context: Mountain Regions, ‘Taking the Heat,’ Face Growing Hazards As Ice Melts, UN Climate Panel Warns.

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By The Numbers

380 million Additional people worldwide who could be facing water stress by 2050, in comparison to 2010 figures, according to a new study published in Earth’s Future. Researchers define water stress at the ratio between water use and availability, and say that future water stress levels will be largely determined by whether the increase in global temperatures can be kept below 2°C (3.6°F). World Economic Forum

$200 million Total damages to more than 2,500 buildings in and around Midland County, Michigan, following failures of the Edenville and Sanford dams on May 19-20, 2020. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is requesting a federal major disaster declaration to help alleviate some of the restoration costs. Bridge 

Science, Studies, and Reports

Last year, the European Union environment agency analyzed the quality of bathing waters in the 27 EU nations, along with the United Kingdom, Albania, and Switzerland. Out of 22,295 sites that were monitored, 95 percent of waterbodies met at least minimum water quality standards, and 84.6 percent had excellent water quality. Associated Press

On the Radar

Tropical Storm Cristobal made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday afternoon, causing coastal flooding and heavy rainfall, and prompting the governor to issue a state of emergency declaration. The storm is now weakening, but heavy rainfall in the Gulf Coast and some areas further north is expected to continue in coming days. The Guardian

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