Features and Impact: Heatwave in India

Features and Impact: Heatwave in India

Question: The heat wave phenomenon in India had a catastrophic toll. Elucidate the features of a heatwave and the impact of the same on India.

The May 2015 heatwave has impacted different parts of India

Features of a Heatwave

- Heatwave is a period of several days to weeks of excessively hot weather and high temperature

- There has been an increasing trend in high humidity heatwaves characterised by presence of high night time temperature

- Extreme heat events are more responsible for deaths each year as against hurricanes, lightning , tornadoes, earthquakes and floods in unison

- The trend of heatwaves cannot be explained by natural variation alone

- Only with inclusion of human influences can computer models account for heatwave

- Climate change has created heatwave conditions making them more frequent and intense

Impact on India

- Temperatures soared to 40 degree celsius on an average

- Parts of India were gripped with a massive heatwave that saw mercury shooting past 43 degree celsius

- Temperature of around 44 degree celsius was enough to melt pavements in the capital city

- Searing heat across the country is the worst heat event in 10 years according to the IMD

- Odisha, AP and Telangana states of SE India have observed temperatures soaring past 45 degree celsius

- In Titlagarh, Odisha, temperatures soared past 47.6 degree celsius

- In Ongole, AP high temperatures averaged around 43.47 degree celsius

- In Daltonganj, temperature peaked at 47.2 degree celsius

- The heat wave killed 2,037 persons in India

- Most deaths were located in the S. Indian states of AP and Telangana

- This was the fifth deadliest heatwave in India

- According to IPCC, more common and intense heat waves across India will impact communities negatively and raise mortality

- It is projected that maximum temperature occurring once in 20 years will double due to rise in GHG emissions

- In 2009,2010 and 2011 roughly twice as many record highs were recorded in comparison to record lows

- This is consistent with the warming climate

- Small change in average global temperatures has led to extreme heat events

- Mean temperature rose by nearly 0.6 degree celsius over the past 11 decades in India in accordance with rising average global temperature

- Both AP and Telangana faced maximal casualties accounting for around 93% of the deaths due to the 2015 heat wave

- Through examination of maximum temperature data of 103 stations from the period

- It was observed that in many areas of the country (north, NW, NE and central peninsula) have experienced more than 8 heat wave days on an average per season

Number of deaths due to heat waves :

- Andhra Pradesh - 1369
- Telangana - 541
- Odisha - 67
- Uttar Pradesh - 22
- West Bengal - 13
- Gujarat - 10
- Madhya Pradesh - 10
- Delhi - 5

Facts and Stats

- NOAA reports that new high temperature records outnumbered cold records in the US by 10:1 in 2012

- For the US, rise in heat trapping gases has led to an increase in the probability of record breaking temperature

- Heat trapping gases within the environment raise the possibility of high temperatures by 15 fold

- In the EU, global warming has led to an estimated 29% of new record high temperatures each year

- Last decade 2001-2010 has been recorded as the warmest decade in both India and the world

- In the post industrialisation period, mean surface temperature of the globe has risen by 0.85 degree celsius
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