Delhi could become as hot as Sharjah by 2100
New research shows that average summer highs in major Indian cities could rise by around 3-5 °C by end of the century.
Summer temperatures in India’s capital could become more like those in Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, by 2100 if carbon emissions are not curtailed, new research by World Meteorological Organisation and news outlet, Climate Central, shows.
For Delhi, that would mean a rise of 5 °C in the average summer highs from 35.2 °C to 40.2 °C, which is alarming because the average takes into account June, July and August temperatures.
Elsewhere in India the relatively benign summers of Bangalore (average summer high of 30.4 °C) will feel more like Esfahan (33.8 °C) in Iran. Chennai (35.4 °C) could feel more like Multan (39.2 °C) in Pakistan. Multan has an arid climate and extreme summers, witnessing some of the worst heat waves in Pakistan’s history, including the one that gripped the country in 2015.
Kolkata may find its summers resembling those in Lahore, Pakistan, while Mumbai (29.5 °C) will feel a lot like Kolkata (32.9 °C) by the end of the century if carbon emissions continue unabated.
If countries manage to bring in moderate emission cuts there is some hope that Delhi summers won’t turn into Sharjah summers, but rather more like Faisalabad in neighbouring Pakistan with an average summer maximum temperature of 37.6 °C.
Moderate emission cuts would mean a reduction of about half between today and 2100, which is somewhat in line with what is required under the Paris agreement of 2015. Countries had agreed to carbon emissions reductions in order to keep global average temperatures from rising above 2 °C from pre-industrial levels.
Regardless of the magnitude of cuts, cities disproportionately feel the effects of rising global temperatures because of the rapid growth in population and the heat island effect. Anybody who has travelled through cities into the countryside feels the respite that comes with moving out of the densely populated, buzzing centre. Factors like land use changes and release of waste energy from energy use and air pollution fuel temperature rise in these hotspots.
Dramatic shifts in some cities will push them into entirely new temperature zones, according to the authors. For about twelve places the heat they will experience will be unprecedented for any place in the world, for example, Sudan’s average summer temperature is forecast to shoot up to 44.1 °C in the no emission cuts scenario.