Climate Change

Is India heading for a deadly spell of heatwave again?

Amid forecast of a record-breaking warm year, the India Meteorological Department warns of a warmer than normal summer

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 28 February 2020

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned that the summer will be hotter by an average of above 1 degrees celsius than the normal. This is for the  second consecutive year that IMD has forecast a hotter than usual summer (March-May 2020).

Scientists have already warned that 2020 would be among the 10 warmest years on record. This is based on the weather conditions of the first two months of the year. January this year was the warmest in 141 years. NASA recently declared that Antarctica recorded its highest-ever temperature on record on February 6.

According to IMD, the coming summer will be hotter across the country barring a few exceptions. “The March-April-May (MAM) season average temperatures are likely to warmer than normal over most of the meteorological subdivisions of northwest, west and central India and some subdivisions from south India,” a press release from IMD said.

Normally cold states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh will record above 1°C than normal temperature during the summer.

Last year, India witnessed an unprecedented heat wave spell that started early in March. By the first week of June, there were 73 spells of heatwave. According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), 23 states reported heatwaves in 2019, up from 19 in 2018.

The latest IMD forecast says that the core heatwave zone of the country would have above normal heat wave conditions. “There is about 43 pert cent probability of maximum temperatures in the core HW (heat wave) zone during March to May 2020 to be above normal,” the release said. The core heatwave zone includes Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha.

Various climate data suggest an increasing trend of temperature in summer. “Climate change has led to rise of average summer temperature by 0.5°C in the past five years,” GVV Sarma, member secretary of NDMA, said.

A recently released study by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) said frequency of heatwaves in India would increase from 2020. This study forecast more heatwaves to hit southern India between 2020 and 2064.

There were 54 heatwaves in India between 1961 and 2005. The IITM study said the number would go up to 138 between 2020 and 2064.

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