This summer season has brought unprecedented heatwaves for the citizens of India. A few weeks ago, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) recorded the hottest March in the last 120 years. The intense heat wave in mid and late April brought the temperature in central, east and north-west India from 4.5 to 8.5°C above normal.
The highest recorded temperature in the country was 45.9 on April 27, 2022 at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh. A high of 45.1 °C (113.2 °F) was recorded the day before at Barmer in western Rajasthan in the northwest, according to the India Meteorological Department. Temperatures of 42-44°C (108-111°F) have been observed in many other locations.
To learn more about this topic, CitySpidey spoke to Aditya Pundir, Director for India and South Asia, The Climate Reality Project India. He says: “The temperature of the earth has already risen by 1.1% and therefore the entire climate system is affected. The country has been warming up much more than before, so heat pockets called head-leaf have been formed. So if any region of India has this kind of situation, it can lead to the situation of anticyclone. And the anticyclone can stop wind movement, resulting in intense heat and also reducing the chance of rain.
Aditya Pundir also mentions, “IPCC report AR6 predicts many more heatwaves in South Asia in the coming periods. This is only beginning because IMD has also indicated that the temperature may reach 50C in the coming times. The Earth’s temperature has risen by 1%, so the sea temperature has also risen, and that is why there is 7% humidity in the environment at the moment. This moisture will also disturb the amount of rain.”
He added. “In the last 8,000 years, the highest carbon dioxide level was 280 parts per million and now it has risen to over 410. And the level of that carbon has been increased by us because it’s mostly man-made. The fossil fuel we use is made from greenhouse gases. And the greenhouse gases act like a blanket of the earth, helping to maintain the temperature of the earth. As emissions levels increase despite lockdowns during Covid this increases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and we need to reduce it by 45%. The government needs to prepare for these heatwaves as they are also preparing for Covid as it will affect people’s health.”
In India, the number of workers is very high and working outdoors in this heat directly affects people’s health. Farmers, street vendors, rickshaw drivers and other people who do field work suffer from this problem which makes them sick and dehydrated.
Speaking on how this situation is affecting people, Aditya Pundir says: “Following the news and the present, farmers are complaining about their wheat loss that they are facing due to heat. Heat will affect food and water and will directly affect people’s health. Because in India there are a number of people who do field research in markets, construction sites, agriculture etc. Heat waves can increase the risk of heart failure, heat stroke, dehydration and many other problems.”
Heat-related illnesses, poor air quality, insufficient rainfall and lower crop yields are the consequences of the heat wave. Additionally, demand for electricity has increased and coal supply has declined, resulting in the country’s biggest electricity crisis compared to the past six years. Mountain snow has been melting rapidly in the northern areas of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. More than 300 major forest fires were raging across the country on April 27, according to the Forest Survey of India.
“In India, 70% of electricity comes from coal and only 10% from renewable sources. So we are still dependent on coal worldwide. The government should try to push solar energy and this should be done at loggerheads to solve this problem will not increase in the future,” says Pundir.
According to the forecast, the heat wave is expected to worsen in the next few days and last at least another week.
In India, spring and early summer heat waves are common, especially in May, the warmest month of the year. However, the arrival of the monsoon season, which lasts from late May to September, usually brings relief. Spring heatwaves have increased in number, with 12 of the country’s 15 warmest years since 2006 occurring, according to India’s Ministry of Geosciences.