Climate risk planning for floods and droughts with a hint of Noah and Joseph

A team of researchers investigated the impact on health from floods and droughts between 2010 – 2020. Flooding can be caused by heavy rainfall, storm surges, tsunamis, snow and ice melt or damage to water infrastructure. Health impacts include injuries from flooding including collapsed buildings, floating objects, toxic water with increased pathogens. Regular flooding can affect human respiratory systems by living in a wetter environment. They found some evidence that people with low incomes, older persons, women, children, disabled or chronic health conditions may be more affected by flooding.

Droughts can also increase infectious diseases with lower water levels and poorer drinking water quality, as well as malnutrition and death. In warmer areas where drought is more common there may be air pollution from forest fires. Displacement and migration from flood or drought areas can impact mental health.

They conducted a 10-year scoping review by researching databases including Web of Science, Pubmed, Science Direct, Scopus and e-Library for both English and Russian articles. They used conceptual categories to expand the review into other journals e.g. floods, droughts, human health, Russia, RF regions etc They excluded duplicates and used a final shortlist of 22 articles.

Regions which were most affected by floods in Russia include the Northern Caucasus, Far East and ‘zonal mid-latitude’ areas which include the river basins Volga, Don, Lena and others. Siberia, Far East, North Caucasus and Black Sea regions have experienced catastrophic flooding.

Lena River

Droughts have occurred across agricultural regions ranging from European Russia, across southern Siberia and southern Ural regions which have caused land degradation and desertification.

For future flood mitigation, to reduce the impact on physiological and mental health, they recommend development of a framework to measure impact of community-based sustainability approaches, development of flood risk management guidelines particularly dissemination of information and contribution in flood preparation by vulnerable groups. They recommend continuing a research program to monitor community health. A drought management plan for public health preparedness including development and management of water reserves and usage, as well as local and regional guidelines and information dissemination.

They suggest that biblical references to extreme weather events and their probability can be analysed and maybe used to help with analogies for understanding risk e.g.

Extreme floods and droughts are natural extreme events, and can be related to the Noah and Joseph effects, known from the Holy Book and used in the theory of fractal analysis. They present two dual forms of violent variability, two tails in the probability distribution function of precipitation [12,117]. A catastrophe on the Noah tail, a flood as a discrete event, can be succeeded by the Joseph effect, drought, and major shock at the Joseph tail as a prolonged phenomenon with a continuously accumulating effect

They believe that continuing to prevent, adapt and mitigate climate change will improve human health in the populations across the Russian Federation. Development of risk management and sustainable plans, advanced mapping and investment in climate-sensitive regions will also create a healthier environment.

Grigorieva, E.A.; Livenets, A.S. Risks to the Health of Russian Population from Floods and Droughts in 2010–2020: A Scoping Review. Climate 2022, 10, 37.

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