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Even with ‘moderate emissions’, India’s heat is set to get worse

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Important Geophysical phenomena


Source: TH

Context: The climate crisis is no longer a distant event that might happen in the future.

Indications of the impending climate crisis:

  • Temperatures are rising, rainfall patterns are shifting, and extreme events such as record-high temperatures, etc.
  • For example, the month of February (this year) in India was the hottest since 1901.
  • According to a 2021 study (The Lancet), more than five million people died (between 2000-2019) on average each year worldwide because of extreme temperatures.
  • The IPCC 6th Assessment Report states that extreme heat events will grow with increasing global warming.


The case of India:

  • A study shows that the temperature in India has been steadily increasing during both summer and winter.
  • The recorded increase in maximum and minimum temperature over 30 years (1990-2019) is up to 0.9º C and 0.5º C, respectively.



Impact of increasing heat:

  • A cause of suffering and death in extreme cases.
  • It undermines systems such as agriculture and other climate-sensitive sectors that support the livelihoods and well-being of people.


Climate projections for the districts of India (2021-2050):

  • The summer maximum temperature will increase (between 2º C – 3.5º C) even under a ‘moderate emissions’ scenario.
  • Even winter minimum temperatures are projected to increase by 0.5º C to 3.5º C in the future.
  • The diurnal temperature range (DTR – variation between high and low air temperature during a single day) is also changing.
    • A Department of Science and Technology study (2020) shows an asymmetric increase in the minimum temperature compared to the maximum.
  • This will, in turn, increase the risk of heat stress → drought, deteriorating soil quality, crop failure, job loss, higher migration, morbidity, and mortality → can affect ecological systems, and the carbon economy.
  • According to a 2019 ILO report, India is expected to lose 5.8% of working hours in 2030 due to heat stress.


Way ahead:

  • Implement the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction through improved early warning systems, public awareness, and formulation of heat action plans.
  • Prepare district-level heat hotspot maps to design long-term measures to reduce deaths due to extreme heat.


Best practices: Innovative strategies such as –

  • Emergency cooling centres (similar to the ones in Toronto and Paris);
  • Survival guides that are strategically displayed to survive extreme heat or heat waves (like in Athens);
  • White roofs (Los Angeles);
  • Green rooftops (Rotterdam);
  • Self-shading tower blocks (Abu Dhabi); and
  • Green corridors (Medellin).

Related news: PM Modi chairs high-level meet to review preparedness for hot weather conditions this summer

 Source: TH

Context: The PM of India called for preparing separate awareness material for different stakeholders like common citizens, medical professionals, local body authorities, and disaster response teams.

PM asked:

●        The FCI is to take measures to ensure optimal storage of grains in extreme weather conditions.

●        The IMD prepares daily weather forecasts which makes predictions easy to interpret and disseminate.

●        For detailed fire audits of all hospitals.


Heat Wave:

●        A heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the NW parts of India.

●        Heat waves typically occur between March and June.

●        According to the IMD, heat waves need not be considered till the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C for Plains and at least 30°C for Hilly regions.

Insta Links:

Heat Waves and Climate Change