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Unusual February heat and the ‘normal abnormal’ in global weather – Heat Dome

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Geography – Important Geophysical phenomena.


Source: Indian Express

 Context: Over the past week, maximum temperatures have been 5-11 degrees C higher than normal in most parts of northern and western India.


Reasons for abnormal heat:

  • According to the IMD, an anticyclonic formation over south Gujarat is one of the main reasons for the warming on the west coast.
  • Around Maharashtra and Goa, a weaker-than-usual sea breeze along the Konkan coast was aggravating the effects of the anticyclone.
  • This year is widely expected to be a little hotter than the previous two years, mainly because of the expected end of the strongest-ever La Niña event.


What are heat domes?

  • A heat dome is a meteorological phenomenon that occurs when a high-pressure system traps hot air in a region, causing temperatures to rise and creating a dome of hot air. This dome of hot air can persist for several days or weeks, leading to prolonged periods of extreme heat and heat waves.


Effects of Heat Dome:

  • They are dangerous for human health, especially for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and those with preexisting health conditions.
  • Impacts food production
  • Increasing wildfires.
  • Lead to droughts and other environmental impacts
  • Increased energy demand and strain on the power grid due to increased use of air conditioning.


What can be done?

  • Staying hydrated, avoiding outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day, and providing cooling centres for vulnerable populations.
  • Governments and policymakers can also take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change to prevent the frequency and intensity of heat domes from increasing further.