Published: 27th April 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: Everything you need to know about the dreaded heatwaves hitting the country right now
Heatwaves are likely to impact agricultural yields, construction activities and more as peak summer is yet to hit us in its entirety. Here's what else we can expect from it
May is not quite here yet, but the heatwaves have officially arrived. Several states have been advised to take precautionary measures by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) as heatwaves take their toll and are in the mood to spare no one. The spring season has been virtually absent as people brace for an extended summer.
But what is causing this phenomenon? What could be the greater ramifications? We unlock the details here in this edition of What The FAQ.
First up, what exactly is a heatwave?
A heatwave is a period of excessively hot weather. This could be accompanied by high levels of humidity, especially in tropical coastal regions of the world. Technically, it is defined as a spell of three or more days when the maximum shade temperature exceeds 32.2 degrees Celsius on each of those days.
The year 2019 was the last time when India experienced a major heatwave when the heat period lasted a scorching 32 days between mid-May and mid-June. Delhi saw a peak Mercury level of 48 degrees Celsius while the highest recorded temperature was reported at Churu in Rajasthan at a barely believable 50.8 degrees Celsius.
What is the reason behind this heatwave?
Experts believe that the hot winds blowing in from Pakistan could have been the reason behind the unusually high temperatures, especially in the Himalayan regions. The number of extremely cold days in the Himalayas is also decreasing which puts greater pressure on glaciers and other water reserves of the region. Hot winds over the interior of Maharashtra and central India from the dry and arid Northwest region of India are the main causes behind the temperatures soaring. The lack of pre-monsoon showers is another factor behind this summer occurrence.
How much worse will this get?
It is a clear indicator of climate change that prolonged heatwaves are intensifying. Experts say that until net greenhouse gas emissions end, heatwaves in India will continue to become hotter and more dangerous. The cyclical weather phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean, known as the La Nina, is usually the cause of wet and cold winters but its current impact on the summer weather is unexpected.
What are the likely outcomes on livelihood due to this?
Impacting crop harvests is the main threat because of the heatwaves, especially since the impacted areas are those producing the agricultural yields. Punjab has already reported that production targets will be curtailed after wheat was found shrivelled. Construction activities are also likely to take a hit due to this. Education departments are rushing to close down schools and colleges for the summer as well.