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Are Floods Getting Worse in the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Basins?

  • Monirul Qader Mirza, M.
  • Warrick, R. A.
  • Ericksen, N. J.
  • Kenny, G. J.

The Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna/Barak rivers are lifelines for millions of people in South Asia in Nepal, India, Bhutan and Bangladesh. They supply water for food and fibre production and for industrial and domestic purposes. They are also sources of disastrous floods that cause substantial damage to agriculture and infrastructure in these countries. There are claims that flood discharges, areal extent, and damage-costs are getting worse in the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna/Barak basins. The validity of these claims was examined by applying four different statistical tests to the peak discharge time series and flooded areas. The results indicate that no conclusive changes have occurred over the last few decades. Reports of increased flood damage may be due to a combination of other factors, such as improved damage assessment techniques, and the expansion and intensification of settlement in flood-prone areas, but this was not tested in this paper and should be top priority for future research.

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