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10 cities saw harsher heatwave in 2022 compared to last year

The effect of climate change has been much more visible with the inland regions witnessing 'unbearable summer heat' much earlier and much longer
Last Updated : 10 June 2022, 13:21 IST

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Heatwaves recorded in various parts of India in 2022 were no less than a siren signalling the impending environmental crisis in the country induced by global warming. The increasing intensity—especially when comparing the weather data of April 2022 and April 2021—as shown in a latest report by Greenpeace India shows unnerving temperature conditions in 10 Indian state capitals.

The global non-profit environment group released data that shows how the 10 states capitals in India have witnessed adverse temperature conditions in April 2022. The data not only highlights the rise in temperature, but also reflects an increase in the number of days with extreme heat conditions.

In India, the effect of climate change has been much more visible with the inland regions witnessing “unbearable summer heat” much earlier and much longer than previous years.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department, India’s north, west and central areas suffered the hottest summer in 122 years. India is witnessing high summer temperatures in end of March-early April, unlike before when the peaking began towards end of April and early May.

A report by Greenpeace India said, “According to multiple climate models, the situation is only set to worsen in the coming decades if adequate measures are not taken.”

In terms of percentage, Shimla—ironically, it’s a favourite summer vacation spot for lot of citizens—topped the list of increases in the number of days with extreme heat conditions, with a change of over 183 per cent.

Shimla was followed by Bhopal, Lucknow, and Jaipur. The other capital cities included for the heatwave study were New Delhi, Patna, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Chennai.

Shimla

The capital city of Himachal Pradesh has been consistently facing severe heatwaves over the last few years. The Greenpeace data reveals that the high temperatures in April 2021 were between 40–42°C, while in April 2022, it was between 40–44°C. High temperatures (above 40°C) were registered for 17 days in 2022, when compared with the six days in 2021.

Bhopal

While the Madhya Pradesh capital demonstrated no change in the highest temperature range recorded in April 2021 and 2022, the number of days experiencing the extreme conditions rose significantly. In April 2021, the number of days with extreme heat conditions was 10; it rose to 28 in April 2022.

Lucknow

The capital of India’s largest state faced extreme heatwaves this year. The highest temperature recorded in the region was 45°C in April 2022, against the 42°C-mark of April 2021. The number of days facing severe heat also increased from 11 to 27.

Jaipur

The connection between Rajasthan with severe heat conditions is not new. But what is new is the change in the number of days with extreme heat conditions. The city recorded the maximum temperature of 43°C in both April 2021 and April 2022. However, the number of days experiencing this weather surged to 26 in 2022, as compared to 11 days in 2021.

New Delhi

The national capital in April 2021 witnessed extreme temperature conditions for nine days with the maximum temperature being 42°C. However, it increased to 20 days in April 2022, with the mercury touching the 43°C mark.

States

Number of days with extreme temperature conditions in 2021

Number of days with extreme temperature conditions in 2022

Change in percentage

Shimla

6

17

183.33%

Bhopal

10

28

180%

Lucknow

11

27

145.45%

Jaipur

11

26

136.36%

New Delhi

9

20

122.22%

The other five cities, too, depicted similar trends. While the maximum temperature recorded by Kolkata surged from 40°C in April 2021 to 41°C in the same month of 2022, Hyderabad witnessed a rise of 2 degrees with the temperature increasing from 40°C to 42°C in April 2022.

Chennai and Patna, despite registering a decline of 5°C and 1°C respectively in the maximum temperature recorded in April 2022 as compared to April 2021, still saw increased number of days with extreme conditions. For Chennai, it was seven in April 2022—it was just three in corresponding period the previous year. For Patna it rose from 11 in April 2021 to 14 this year’s April. Patna recorded a maximum temperature of 43°C in April 2022, whereas Chennai registered 37°C in the same month.

Although Mumbai did not register any heatwaves in April 2021 or April 2022, the city recorded a comparative increase in highest temperature: in April 2022 it registered 39°C as the highest temperature as against the 36°C in April 2021.

Another article by Greenpeace India stated: “The hottest days for India have increased from 40 days per year in the 1950s to 100 days in the 2020s. This sharp increase and a heat index of over 35°C has significant health impacts that the population is already experiencing.”

Heat Index is the measurement of how hot it actually feels when relative humidity is taken into consideration along with the actual air temperature.

A report on India’s heatwave trends by Greenpeace India stated: “During heatwaves as temperatures spike in inland cities, coastal areas will experience lesser temperature variation in contrast. However, the humidity from the sea will create muggy weather conditions.”

The heatwave trends report projects a bleak future where there are three distinct possibilities based on the action taken now to cut down carbon emission; all three scenarios show that by the end of this century the average global temperature will be higher no matter what, the only thing that could be controlled is by how much.

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Published 10 June 2022, 13:21 IST

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