Rain, rain, go away, come again another day! This is the perfect traditional rhyme that suits the current situation as there is nothing possibly more mundane to talk about than the weather!
No wonder, the world is getting rainier. As the climate warms, the atmosphere can hold and release more moisture, meaning torrential downpours are on the rise around the planet.
Rain, of course, is a blessing and is an essential part of the world’s weather system. It is the source of our drinking water and crop irrigation. But excessive rainfall, especially at fast rates, is catastrophic and can spell trouble and do more harm than good as in the present situation.
Flooding as a result of torrential rain risks human life, damages infrastructure including buildings, roads, and bridges, and devastates livestock and crops. Too much rain brings a negative impact on wildlife, the environment, and the economy.
The Sultanate of Oman is no longer a stranger to climate change-related threats. A study by scholars from Bonn University reveals that around 6,000 years ago the changing climate led to the disappearance of most of the mangrove trees on the Omani coasts. “This was due to a dramatic rise in soil salinity, resulting from a decline in winter rains”, the study reveals.
Oman experienced 22 extreme weather events between 2007 and 2021, six of them cyclones. We have witnessed an increase in recent years in number, duration, and intensity.
We are witnesses to how the rain waters transform the wadis into a raging sea of water in minutes, leading to dangerous flash floods.
Reports indicate that rising groundwater salinity due to the torrential rains is a major concern. Tropical storms have caused Oman losses in the billions. North Al Batinah is considered the most exposed of the coastal governorates to the tropical storms. Muscat, Sur and Salalah are also highly vulnerable.
According to a study by the previous Ministry of Regional Municipal and Water Resources, Al Batinah's coast is the worst affected, with rising salinity of 40-45 per cent shown in water samples from 670 groundwater wells, but the situation is similar in Al Khabourah and elsewhere.
Farmers in these areas fear their land will become infertile if the situation continues.
As rains are becoming more frequent and more intense, many scientists in the world link it to climate change. They believe human-caused global warming is to blame because climate change is supercharging the water cycle’s evaporation process and messing with rainfall patterns.
Research shows that heavy downpours have become more common since the middle of the last century, when global warming started to intensify.
While torrential rainfalls show no signs of abating despite the fact that climate change brings droughts in some parts of the world, researchers say they may intensify.
Some of the most sophisticated forecasts suggest that as the globe warms, more rains will fall in severe, intermittent storms rather than in the kind of gentle soaking showers that can sustain crops.
Farmers depend on rain to nourish crops, but too much rain can actually harm crop production. Rain floods fields, washing away seeds and precious topsoil. Wet weather encourages bacteria and fungus growth, which can further damage crops.
Unusual amounts of rain affect the total crop yield as well as the taste and quality of fruits and vegetables.
Globally, nearly 1.5 billion people, or 20 per cent of the world population have at least a moderate risk of flood exposure. While we may not be able to stop the warming-induced downpours that have already been set in motion, we can curb their impacts.
However, climate change is at the forefront of public and government consciousness due to the accelerated pace of changing climatic patterns being experienced in Oman. A national strategy for adaptation and mitigation to climate change 2020-2040 has already been developed to accelerate climate actions' pace and scale.