Climate Change

Extreme heatwave conditions continue to persist over several parts of India

According to experts, the immediate meteorological reason for the heat can be attributed to hot winds blowing from the Arabian Peninsula towards Rajasthan and the rest of northwest India

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 03 June 2024

Nearly 25,000 cases of suspected heat stroke have been reported and around 150 lives claimed after several heatwave days spread across the country from March-May, according to media reports and government data.

India declares a heatwave day when the maximum temperature in any given region is 4.5-6.4 degrees Celsius higher than normal. May was one of the hottest months for the region, with temperature in capital Delhi and the nearby state of Rajasthan touching almost 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). In contrast, parts of eastern and Northeastern India have been affected by cyclone Remal. Heavy rain in the Northeastern state of Assam has killed 14 people since Tuesday.

According to the India Meteorological department, there have been two spells of heatwaves in India in May. The first was from May 1 to May 7 when Odisha, Gangetic West Bengal, the southeast Peninsular region and interior parts of Karnataka experienced heatwaves for 5-7 days. The second spell began on May 16 and is still ongoing. During this time, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi-NCR, south Haryana, southwest Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Assam and several other states recorded heatwaves.

Gujarat and Rajasthan are the worst-affected states, with more than 60 people having died in Rajasthan due to the intense heat. At least 33 people, including election officials on duty in India’s just-concluded general election, died of suspected heat stroke in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha.

According to experts, the immediate meteorological reason for the heat can be attributed to the hot winds blowing from the Arabian Peninsula in West Asia towards Rajasthan and the rest of northwest India.

The other cause are warm winds blowing in from over the Arabian Sea, a consequence of the record-breaking ocean warming in the past couple of years. The Arabian Sea has warmed by around 1.2°C to 1.4°C in the past few decades. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) stated recently that the sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in all global ocean basins have been on a record-breaking streak for the past 13 months.

The heatwaves though may continue in the month of June for northwest and central India, while the southern states remain cooler because of the rains from the southwest monsoon. But the monsoon winds will probably take around a month to reach Delhi and northwest India.

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