Heat Waves

Heat Waves


India is about to witness an above-average heat wave conditions during this summer, as announced by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).


GS-01 GS-03 (Geophysical Phenomena, Climate Change)

Facts for Prelims:

  • Heat Index: It is a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. It is also known as the apparent temperature. The heat index is calculated using a formula that takes into account both the air temperature and the relative humidity.
  • India Meteorological Department:
    • It was established in 1875.
    • It works as an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India.
    • It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Dimensions of the Article:

  • Heat Wave
  • IMD’s Criteria for Heat Wave Declaration in India
  • Classification Based on Deviation from Normal
  • Topic Overview: Why in news?
  • Causes of the Issue
  • Suggested Measures

Heat Wave:

  • It is also described as extreme heat.
  • They denote long lasting periods of extremely hot weather, posing adverse effects on human health, the environment, and the economy.
  • India is especially susceptible to heat waves considering its tropical climate, which have escalated in frequency and intensity in recent times.

IMD’s Criteria for Heat Wave Declaration in India:

  • The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) categorizes a heat wave if the maximum temperature of a region reaches 40°C or higher for plains and 30°C or higher for hilly areas.

Classification Based on Deviation from Normal:

  • Heat Wave: Deviation from normal temperature ranges from 4.5°C to 6.4°C.
  • Severe Heat Wave: Deviation from normal temperature exceeds 6.4°C.
  • Classification Based on Actual Maximum Temperature:
  • Heat Wave: Occurs when the actual maximum temperature equals or surpasses 45°C.
  • Severe Heat Wave: Occurs when the actual maximum temperature equals or surpasses 47°C.

Process of Formation:

  • It is formed when a high-pressure area in the upper atmosphere strengthens and remains over a region for several days lasting up to several weeks. This traps heat near the earth’s surface.

                                                                                               Source: Wikipedia

Topic Overview: Why in news?

  • The article – “Will India experience more heat wave days this summer?”, explores India’s impending heat wave conditions, their implications for power generation, and the environmental challenges posed by increased reliance on coal.
  • It underscores the urgency of addressing climate change-induced heat waves and the need for sustainable energy solutions.
  • Heat waves have significant socio-economic and environmental ramifications, impacting public health, agriculture, and energy infrastructure.
  • India’s vulnerability to heat waves underscores the critical importance of proactive measures to mitigate their adverse effects and ensure the resilience of communities and ecosystems.

Causes of the Issue:

  • Climate Change: As evidenced by a study published in April 2023 – Climate change is the main reason behind the increased frequency, intensity, and duration of heat waves. Rising temperatures due to global warming also contribute to more frequent and severe heat wave events, posing risks to human health and well-being.
  • El Niño Effect: The ongoing El Niño weather condition amplifies above-normal temperatures that induces occurrence of heat waves. Changes in sea surface temperatures and wind patterns associated with El Niño events influence atmospheric circulation, leading to heat extremes in various regions, including India.

Suggested Measures:

  • Renewable Energy Transition: Accelerating the transition to renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, can mitigate the reliance on coal and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Investing in clean energy infrastructure and promoting renewable energy adoption will help decarbonize India’s power sector and mitigate climate risks.
  • Climate Adaptation Strategies: Implementing climate adaptation measures, including heat wave early warning systems, heat-resilient infrastructure, and urban green spaces, can enhance resilience to extreme heat events. Community-based initiatives, public awareness campaigns, and heat wave preparedness plans are essential for protecting vulnerable populations and reducing heat-related health risks.
  • Energy Efficiency: Enhancing energy efficiency and conservation measures can reduce electricity demand and mitigate the need for additional power generation during heat wave periods. Improving energy efficiency standards for appliances, buildings, and industrial processes will promote sustainable energy consumption and contribute to climate resilience.
  • International Cooperation: Collaborating with international partners on climate mitigation and adaptation efforts can leverage global expertise, technology transfer, and financial resources to address shared challenges. Participating in multilateral initiatives and agreements, such as the Paris Agreement, facilitates knowledge sharing and capacity building for climate action.