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Investigating the flood damages in Lower Indus Basin since 2000: Spatiotemporal analyses of the major flood events

Abstract

While historically significant for ancient civilizations, the Indus basin is also known for its floods and complex anthropogenic management history. Resulting from years of modifications by the pre-British era Mughal rulers followed by the post-partition division of river waters among the two neighbors, India and Pakistan, Pakistan faces severe management and financial challenges of water management. This study investigates the intricacies arising from this complicated management doctrine for the lower Indus basin. A detailed remote sensing-based analysis of the significant floods to hit the lower Indus basin since 2000 has been provided. Flood years were identified, and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data for the years 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2016 were used to map their spatiotemporal extents. Almost all the flood water accumulated in the north is released in one river channel of the lower Indus basin. Further, the challenges were exacerbated due to the excessive rainfall in 2011 and 2012 in southeastern Sindh. A trend analysis of rainfall data shows an increase in the southern basin in the last 21 years, particularly toward the central plains and Sindh Province. The floodwater accumulated in the lower basin for as many as ~ 425 days on average, stretching to ~ 800 days of stagnancy in some places. The water stagnation period has been the highest in the river floodplain, highly populated and cultivated. The analyses of the current study suggest that the riverine channel has been better managed after the 2010 floods; however, the monsoon’s shift in 2011 and 2012 led to widespread disaster in low-lying regions of Sindh Province.

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Data is available with the corresponding author and can be made available upon reasonable request.

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Atif, S., Umar, M. & Ullah, F. Investigating the flood damages in Lower Indus Basin since 2000: Spatiotemporal analyses of the major flood events. Nat Hazards 108, 2357–2383 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-021-04783-w

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Keywords

  • Indus basin
  • Floods
  • MODIS
  • Water stagnation
  • Trend analysis
  • Disaster management