Climate Change

India sees hottest February since 1901

Average maximum temperature was 29.54 degrees Celsius, sets precedent for a blistering summer

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 02 March 2023

India has faced its hottest February in 2023 since record-keeping began in 1901, according to India Meteorological Department. The average maximum temperature was 29.54 degrees Celsius.

A huge reason for this is the dearth of winter rain (caused by weak western disturbances), clear skies and anticyclones. The country received 68 per cent less than normal rainfall this February. This sets a precedent for a blistering summer with the ‘enhanced probability’ of heatwaves between March and May.

While heatwaves are common in India, last March was India’s hottest since 1901. About 15 states were affected because of the recurrent heatwaves, including the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh. This forced the government to ban wheat exports, which led to a domestic price rise.

Heat stress has already affected the standing wheat crop this time, which has led to the government issuing advisories to farmers to manage the stress. India is the second largest wheat producer in the world after China. Other crops that might be affected include mangoes, chickpeas and rapeseed.

A Lancet study in 2022 found that India saw a 55 per cent rise in deaths due to extreme heat between 2000-2004 and 2017-2021. Exposure to heat also caused a loss of 167.2 billion potential labour hours among Indians in 2021, the study noted. Additional heatwaves this time could increase the power demand multifold.

As for the world, in February 2022, temperatures were above average over western and northern Russia and parts of the Arctic Ocean, and below average over large parts of North America and China.

Europe as a whole was more than 2ºC warmer than average, yet 1.6°C cooler than the warmest February (February 1990) in the record dating back to 1979.

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