As India Hit by Soaring Temperature & Heat Wave, Experts Believe 'Worse is Yet to Come'

Sun - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.05.2022
Since March, India has been experiencing an unusual series of heat waves and high temperatures, causing disruptions in the lives of millions of workers and vendors who work outdoors throughout the day.
The ongoing summer season is already feeling unbearable in various parts of India, said truck driver Rampal Yadav, who usually carries goods to different parts of the country.
"Truckers are allowed in the cities from 11am to 6pm (the non-working hours), and usually the rest of the time we prefer to sleep inside the truck or eat out at some roadside shop on the highways or outskirts of the city", Yadav shares with Sputnik.

He says these places don't have air conditioners or coolers and "this April, it turned literally unbearable to spend the daytime outside".

The soaring temperatures, especially in the northern, central, and western parts of the country, have forced people like Yadav to spend their days inside shelters. It adversely impacts their earnings.
The months of March and April witnessed a rise in the average temperature by 2-4 degrees, from 31-35 degrees Celsius, in most parts of north-western and central India, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
While heat waves are common in India during the months of May and June, this year summer began in March.
The average maximum temperatures (35.9 to 37.78 degrees Celsius) in the month of March were the highest in 122 years, with the maximum temperature across the country being nearly 1.86 degrees Celsius above normal.
Generally, a heat wave is declared when the maximum temperature is above 40 degrees Celsius, or at least 4.5 degrees above normal. Usually a heat wave is pronounced when an area logs a maximum temperature of 45 degrees Celsius, and if it crosses 47 degrees, it is considered a severe heat wave.

"Although there are several atmospheric factors attributed to the behaviour, primarily it is western disturbances, storms originating in the Mediterranean region, making the atmosphere hot and dry with no rainfall in the western India", Dr D. Sivananda Pai, director of the Institute for Climate Change Studies, tells Sputnik. "It's all global warming and climate change".

India's neighbour Pakistan is also witnessing extreme heat in some places.
Predicting that worse is yet to come, climatologist Maximiliano Herrera, who keeps track of extreme weather around the world, tweeted on Monday, "after a few cooler days (3 to 5 May), the extreme heat will come back worse than ever by the next weekend with expected max. temperatures near and later next week even above 50 C".

Impact at Large

Climate scientists have found that heat waves are becoming more likely and more intense due to global heating, says Dr Pai.
"This is not just about India or South Asia, the weather is changing across the world. There is no country, sea, or island in the globe which is not getting impacted due to global warming, and the threat is real", Dr Pai explains.
This has started impacting our life, a few see it, and many are still ignoring it, says Dr Pai.
Ravikant, a rickshaw-puller in the Lajpat Nagar area of Delhi, shares that since mid-March, "it's become impossible to work after 10 o'clock in the morning".

"A few of us thought it's not a big deal and we were out. Most of the rickshaw pullers fell sick — mostly with symptoms of dehydration, dizziness, vomiting, fever, etc.", he says.

Earlier this week, the Indian government also issued an advisory to the public to keep themselves protected in the scorching heat. The federal Health Ministry has recommended staying inside from 3:00 pm onward, apart from other do's and don'ts.
The cost of such extreme weather events is disproportionately borne by the poor, says Dr Chandni Singh, senior researcher at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and a lead author at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), at a seminar held in April.
"Poor people have fewer resources to cool down as well as fewer options to stay inside, away from the heat", she says.

A research paper authored by M. Rajeevan, secretary of the Ministry of Earth Science, on heat waves in the country states that the phenomena have claimed more than 17,000 lives in 50 years in India, according to a paper published in 2021.

According to the paper, there were 706 heat wave incidents in the country from 1971 to 2019.
Kripan Ghosh, the head of the Agricultural Meteorology Division at IMD, says that extreme heat conditions are impacting seasonal fruits like mangos and lychees, which are mainly grown in the northern and western parts of the country.
He notes that district-level impact-based forecasts are being issued to farmers to take adequate measures to protect their crops.
The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest report, "Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability", warned that the increase in global average temperature is going to cause significant risks to the agricultural and food systems in vulnerable regions of the world, like India.

"In India, rice production can decrease by 10 percent to 30 percent, and maize production by 25 percent to 70 percent, assuming a range of temperature increase from 1 degree to 4 degrees Celsius", the report said. These are staple crops in India.

Perennial tree crops like grapevine, olives, almonds, apples, coffee, and cocoa are also vulnerable to climate change.
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