A new report titled “Heat and Cold Waves in India Processes and Predictability” by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) released Tuesday said that most parts of India, including those in peninsular India and the coasts will see an increase in the duration of heatwaves by 12-18 days by 2060.
Comprehensive response plan for heatwaves
The report recommends a comprehensive response plan for heatwaves which includes cultural, institutional, technological and ecosystem-based adaptation strategies.
The recommendations in the report include: upgrading India's buildings through ventilation and insulation; raising awareness about heat stress; modifying work schedules; offering early warning; and developing cool shelters.
Implications of heatwaves
Heatwaves have killed more people in India than any other natural disaster, with the exception of tropical cyclones, according to the IMD research. It analysed heat wave climatology and occurrence using data from 1961 to 2020.
IMD declares a heatwave when the maximum temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius and is 4.5 degrees above normal.
When the temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius and is 6.5 degrees above average, a severe heat wave is declared. Heatwaves are most common from March to June in central and northwestern India (heatwave zone), as well as along the coasts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
On average, more than two heatwaves occur throughout the northern sections of the country, as well as coastal Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Heatwaves can occur up to four times every season in some areas.
According to the report's global projections, global warming will lead to an increase of around two heatwaves and an increase in heat wave duration of 12-18 days between 2020 and 2064.
As per the report, the frequency of severe heat waves will increase by 30 times the current climate by the end of the 21st century if the global average temperature is limited to 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial conditions.
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