Widespread Heatwave

Context:

  • India is facing an unusually long series of heatwaves that began in the end of March and scorched north India for most of April.
  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said April was the hottest in northwest India in 122 years. It has also been an unusually hot April with temperatures touching above 40°C in large parts of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

What is a Heatwave?

  • The heat wave is considered when the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C for Plains and at least 30°C for Hilly regions.
  • If the normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40°C, then an increase of 5°C to 6°C from the normal temperature is considered to be heat wave condition.
  • Further, an increase of 7°C or more from the normal temperature is considered as severe heat wave condition.
  • If the normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40°C, then an increase of 4°C to 5°C from the normal temperature is considered to be heat wave condition. Further, an increase of 6°C or more is considered as severe heat wave condition.
  • Additionally, if the actual maximum temperature remains 45°C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, a heat wave is declared.

Impact of Climate Change:

  • Because of the heat-trapping effects of global warming, climate extremes such as heatwaves are predicted to become more common.
  • Extreme rainfall events, as well as extended rainless periods, are projected, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s predictions.
  • The lack of rainfall in the northern portions of the country is the main cause of the sweltering heat.
  • Normally, times of extreme heat are interspersed by brief bouts of rain, but this was not the case in March and April.
  • Ironically, April witnessed the most intense rainfall since 2018, however it was centred in the south and north-eastern parts of the country.

Source: THE HINDU.

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