Study on link between heatwave in India and climate crisis in the offing
Amid talks of climate crisis, there were intense heatwave spells from March 11 to 19, March 27 to April 12, April 17 to 19, and April 26 to 30, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD)
Whether the extremely high temperatures seen in India in March and April this year can be directly attributed to human-induced climate change, and to what extent, would be revealed in a study in the next 1-2 weeks by the World Weather Attribution network, a global collaboration of climate scientists.
The network is expected to provide clues on how the climate crisis could have led to such extreme weather in the subcontinent, scientists Sarah Kew of Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituteand Robert Vautard, director, Institute Pierre-Simon Laplace said at a workshop on heat stress on Saturday.
There is only a one in a hundred chance of such a heatwave spell occurring every year, they said, stressing that the event was rare because of the large area that was affected, the unusually long duration and the early onset in spring.
There were intense heatwave spells from March 11 to 19, March 27 to April 12, April 17 to 19, and April 26 to 30, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). March this year was declared as the hottest in 122 years since the weather bureau started maintaining records.
The network is studying the 2022 heatwave event because of its large-scale impacts, such as crop damage, forest fires, power shortage, coal crisis, large rain deficit, school closures, and record temperatures in many weather stations. They are using five climate models to delve into the reasons.
The scientist network had earlier analysed the record high temperature of 51 degrees Celsius in Rajasthan in May 2016. By some accounts, it was the third-highest temperature ever documented globally. It was a short duration event of around 3-4 days and was mostly localised, making it different from what was experienced this year.
While not attributing the 2016event directly to the climate crisis, the network had said impacts of heatwaves are considerable and increasing due to increasing air pollution and humidity in the region.
Although the 2022 heatwave was unusual, such events are occurring more often, Vautard said.
The WWA team includes scientists from IIT Delhi, IIT Mumbai, Imperial College London, New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, and others. the network is also consulting India’s weather office to analyse the 2022 heatwave event.
“IMD has been saying that the intensity and frequency of heatwaves are increasing and expected to increase further. It should not come as a surprise to us,” said RK Jenamani, who participated in the workshop organised by Climate Trends, a climate communications organisation, on Saturday in Goa.
“We are past the phase of asking if each of these extreme weather events is due to climate change and focus on mitigation and adaptation,” Roxy Mathew Koll, climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, had said on May 3. “The question has become obsolete and a frequent distraction from working towards climate solutions.”
Meanwhile, further heatwaves are likely over many parts of northwest India in the next two days, IMD has warned. Severe heatwaves are likely in many parts over Rajasthan on Sunday, it said.
Heatwaves are also likely in many parts of Madhya Pradesh on Sunday and May 16-17. Parts of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu, Vidarbha and Jharkhand will also experience high temperatures on Sunday.
On Friday, maximum temperatures were 44-47 degrees Celsius over most parts of Rajasthan and in some parts of western Madhya Pradesh, and 40-44 degrees over most parts of East Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Haryana, and in isolated pockets of Marathwada, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Telangana and Jammu.
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