Heatwave in India


In India, a scorching heatwave can reach temperatures of more than 50 degrees Celsius during the summer months. The intensity of these heatwaves has led to devastating consequences for people and the environment, making it one of the most pressing issues facing India today. From intense dehydration and heatstroke to crop failure and water scarcity, heatwaves in India are affecting millions of people across the country. In this article, we will look at the definition of a heatwave, its history in India, causes related to natural and human activities, an overview of their impacts, how they affect human bodies, a case study on Navi Mumbai as a representative city for evaluating heatwaves and finally some government initiatives that have been put forward to reduce their negative impacts.


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Definition of Heatwave

A heatwave is a prolonged period of excessively high temperatures and humidity in an area that can last from days to weeks.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has given the following criteria for Heat Waves :

  • Heat Wave need not be considered till maximum temperature of a station reaches atleast 40°C for Plains and atleast 30°C for Hilly regions
  • When normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40°C Heat Wave Departure from normal is 5°C to 6°C Severe Heat Wave Departure from normal is 7°C or more
  • When normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40°C Heat Wave Departure from normal is 4°C to 5°C Severe Heat Wave Departure from normal is 6°C or more
  • When actual maximum temperature remains 45°C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, heat waves should be declared.

Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becomingly increasingly frequent globally due to climate change. India too is feeling the impact of climate change in terms of increased instances of heat waves which are more intense in nature with each passing year, and have a devastating impact on human health thereby increasing the number of heat wave casualties.

Heatwaves can cause extreme weather-related health problems, such as heat cramps, exhaustion, heat stroke and even death. They also have economic impacts – such as reduced worker productivity, increased energy demand and agricultural losses – leading to increased financial strain on governments and local communities.

The effects of heatwaves can be devastating, so it is important to take the necessary precautions and stay safe in hot weather conditions. With this in mind, let us explore the history of heatwaves in India and how they have impacted the country over time.

History of Heatwaves in India

Heatwaves have been a major issue in India for centuries. As early as the 17th century, reports from travelers and historians describe intense heat taking place in the Indian subcontinent. As temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, these heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense.

In 2015, India experienced its hottest summer on record, with temperatures reaching as high as 51°C in some areas of the country. This heatwave caused over 2,500 deaths and left millions without electricity or water. The following year, a new wave of very high temperatures hit India again, resulting in over 3,000 additional deaths.

Since then, extreme heatwaves have become increasingly common in India during the summer months. In May 2019 alone, more than 600 people died due to extreme heat conditions across the country. These tragedies are a stark reminder of the need to take action on climate change before it is too late.

In India, heat waves are a deadly reality that can no longer be ignored. Unless action is taken to mitigate the effects of climate change, these extreme temperatures will only continue to rise and take more lives with them. To truly understand the crisis at hand, it is essential to look at the causes of intense heatwaves in India.

Causes of Intense Heat Waves

The primary cause of intense heatwaves in India is the rise in global temperatures due to climate change. As the climate warms, the atmosphere is able to trap more heat, resulting in higher temperatures. Additionally, India’s rapid economic development and urbanization have led to an increase in air pollution, which traps even more heat.

Furthermore, deforestation has caused a decrease in natural vegetation that would otherwise help cool down the air and reduce temperatures. This leads to a phenomenon known as the “urban heat island effect” which causes cities to become much hotter than surrounding rural areas. Finally, El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events can also cause significant increases in Indian temperatures during certain years.

Overall, these factors are all contributing to more frequent and intense heat waves across India. As global warming continues to worsen, it is essential that urgent action be taken to reduce carbon emissions and protect vulnerable populations from extreme temperatures before it is too late.

Unless drastic steps are taken to combat the current effects of global warming, India will continue to experience extreme heatwaves that put millions of lives at risk. To learn more about the natural environment causes of these heat waves, read on!

Causes Related to Natural Environment

Climate change is not the only natural environment cause of intense heat waves in India. Deforestation and the urban heat island effect are also major contributors to higher temperatures across the country.

Deforestation has caused a decrease in vegetation that would otherwise help cool down the air and reduce temperatures. This leads to warmer air, which greatly increases the chance of experiencing heatwaves. Additionally, as cities become more developed, they start to absorb more heat due to their buildings and infrastructure. This is known as the “urban heat island effect” which can cause cities to become much hotter than surrounding rural areas.

Finally, El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events can also cause significant increases in Indian temperatures during certain years. ENSO events are naturally occurring phenomena that occur when ocean temperatures increase or decrease in certain parts of the world, causing weather patterns to shift significantly with them.

Overall, these factors all contribute to more frequent and intense heatwaves across India that put millions of lives at risk each year. To combat this issue, it is essential that urgent action be taken to reduce deforestation, improve urban infrastructure design, and better prepare for ENSO events before it is too late.

Causes Related to Human Activities

Human activities also have a significant impact on heatwaves across India. Industrial emissions and the burning of fossil fuels are major contributors to climate change and global warming, which can cause intense heatwaves. Additionally, population growth in cities is driving up demand for air conditioning and energy which further accelerates the urban heat island effect.

Another major human activity that contributes to the intensity of Indian heatwaves is the improper management of water resources. Water helps cool down air temperatures by providing more moisture in the atmosphere but when dams are overused or not managed properly, it can lead to increased temperatures. Finally, land use changes can also play a role as clearing away vegetation increases the amount of sun that reaches land surfaces and increases surface temperature.

All these human activities contribute to more frequent and intense heat waves across India that put millions of lives at risk each year. To combat this issue, governments must take urgent action to reduce industrial emissions, improve urban infrastructure design, manage water resources better, and protect vegetation from being destroyed in order to keep temperatures from rising even higher.

Overview of Heatwaves and Their Impacts in India

Heatwaves in India have become a major cause of concern in recent years. An increase in average temperature and the intensity of heat waves across the country is leading to serious health risks, increased mortality rates, and disruption to daily life.

The impacts of heatwaves are most pronounced for those living in urban areas due to the urban heat island effect. This effect describes how cities can be up to 5°C hotter than surrounding rural areas due to asphalt and concrete trapping more heat. As a result, people living in cities are at greater risk of experiencing severe symptoms such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and even death when temperatures rise above certain thresholds.

Heatwaves also contribute to water shortages across India as they often coincide with a decrease in precipitation which leads to less availability of water resources. Moreover, higher temperatures can cause agricultural crops to fail which puts food security at risk while rising sea levels due to global warming further worsen this problem by causing flooding along coastal areas.

Overall, it is clear that heatwaves have serious consequences for India’s population and environment and that urgent action must be taken by governments and individuals alike if these impacts are to be minimized.

The consequences of heatwaves in India are severe and have grave implications for both people and the environment. It is essential that we work together to address this climate crisis and mitigate its repercussions before it is too late.

Impact of Heatwave on Human Body

Heatwaves can have a serious impact on the human body due to high temperatures. The most common symptoms include dehydration, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and muscle cramps. In extreme cases, heat exhaustion or heatstroke may occur which can result in permanent physical damage or even death.

When exposed to extreme heat for prolonged periods of time, the body’s natural cooling system becomes overwhelmed and unable to regulate its temperature properly. This causes an increase in core body temperature which leads to the aforementioned symptoms. It is important to stay hydrated and limit physical activity during a heatwave as these activities can further increase one’s risk of suffering from heat-related illnesses.

In addition to physical health risks, mental health problems such as depression and anxiety can also be exacerbated by extended exposure to hot weather. Heatwaves make typical daily activities more difficult and uncomfortable which can lead to feelings of frustration and hopelessness for those living in affected areas.

It is essential that individuals take extra precautions during a heatwave in order to avoid any potential health risks associated with extreme temperatures. Staying informed about local weather advisories and seeking medical attention at the first sign of symptoms are both important steps towards avoiding dangerous complications from heat exhaustion or stroke.

Navi Mumbai as a Representative City for Studying Heatwaves

Navi Mumbai is a prime example of an urban area that has been affected by heatwaves in India. Located along the western coast of Maharashtra, Navi Mumbai experiences very hot and humid temperatures during summer months due to its proximity to the Arabian Sea. This makes it an ideal location for studying how heatwaves affect people and the environment.

The city has implemented various initiatives in recent years to help reduce the negative impacts associated with extreme heat. These include increasing green spaces in order to provide shade, opening emergency cooling centers during periods of high temperatures, and promoting water conservation practices among residents.

These efforts have helped improve public health outcomes by reducing instances of heat-related illnesses such as dehydration and exhaustion. They have also helped increase awareness around the importance of conserving energy resources which are essential for mitigating climate change.

Overall, Navi Mumbai provides a valuable case study on how urban areas can successfully deal with the effects of heatwave events through effective planning and interventions. Heatwaves can have devastating impacts on people and the environment, but with the right planning and interventions, cities like Navi Mumbai have shown that these effects can be mitigated.

Government Initiatives to Reduce Negative Impacts of Heatwaves

Some of the initiatives include preparation of heatwave action plans  by heat-wave prone states on a large scale in the country . These plans focus on prevention and early warning, an efficient response mechanism for minimizing the impacts of excessive heat, and health services for those affected.

Another initiative includes setting of roles and responsibilities in the National Guidelines and National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) for proper coordination and better management of a heatwave.

The Government of India has also launched the Heat Wave Early Warning System to monitor heatwave conditions in the country. The system provides daily alerts to state governments and urban local bodies about potential development of extreme heat in certain areas. It is intended to trigger early warnings and prompt preventive measures. Overall, these initiatives have helped reduce the negative impacts associated with heatwaves in India.

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