Heat wave another manifestation of climate change, says CSE

  •  Around 2,000 people have died due to the heat wave that sweeps across India

  • Maximum deaths recorded in the southern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

  • This year, the death toll is higher due to sudden change in temperatures

  • Extreme weather events are on the rise

  • Cities face “urban heat island effect”

NEW DELHI, May 28, 2015: The intense heat wave condition that is sweeping across India currently could be another manifestation of an extreme weather event, say researchers from the New Delhi-based research and advocacy organisation, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). About 2,000 people have been killed in India by this weather condition. In the worst-affected states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, maximum temperatures have hovered around a searing 45 degrees Celsius.

A heat wave is declared when the temperature is five degrees or more than the average temperature recorded on that particular day over the last three decades. Cities feel the brunt of the elevated temperatures, because of the magnified effect of paved surfaces and a lack of tree cover – this is known as the “urban heat island effect”.

According to Arjuna Srinidhi, programme manager, climate change, CSE: “Urban heat island effects can make ambient temperatures feel 3 to 4 degrees more than what they are.”

Adds Srinidhi: “Compared to 2010, heat wave conditions in 2015 so far have been of a shorter duration, yet with a higher death toll. This could be due to the sudden change in temperatures after a prolonged wet February and March that had kept the temperatures cool.“

Climate change and heat waves
Climate records show that human-induced global warming had turned 2014 into the hottest year on record. Eight out of the 10 warmest years in India were during the recent past decade (2001-2010), making it the warmest decade on record with a decadal mean temperature anomaly of 0.49 °C. 

CSE climate researchers say more heat waves were expected as globally temperatures had risen by an average .8 degrees in the past 100 years. Night-time temperatures are rising too, with Ahmedabad and Delhi recently reporting 39 and 36 degrees centigrade. “The number of heat wave days may go up from about 5 to between 30 and 40 every year,” they add.

There is also enough evidence of extreme weather events being on the rise. “This year, we saw the wettest March in about 50 years, and we have already seen the second major flood in Kashmir in a period of six months. These are all extreme weather events,” says Srinidhi.

The UV effect
Additionally, owing to the rising temperatures, ultra violet (UV) rays emerging as a serious menace for people’s health. A Down To Earth story has cited data from the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) which shows that in several cities including Delhi, UV rays are above normal. IITM set up a monitoring system in Delhi two weeks ago and has found that UV rays are ranging between 6 and 9 on the UV index – this carries medium to high health risk.

Building resilience
According to CSE researchers, “Building resilience through climate change adaptation becomes an imperative role of the state and national governments. This includes building awareness about heat waves and their effects, issuing proper warning systems and building capacity of health workers to deal with such events.” 


• For a complete info-package on the current heat wave, please visit www.downtoearth.org.in



Media Clippings
Science behind heat wave: An angry sun, heat strokes & monsoon

The Financial Express, ?May 31, 2015

Science behind heat wave: An angry sun, heat strokes & monsoon

The Economic Times, May 31, 2015

Heat now second-largest natural killer of Indians as death toll crosses 2,000

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, Hyderabad,? ?May 31, 2015

The science behind heat wave

The Hindu Business Line, May 31, 2015

Climate scientists call heat wave in India manifestation of extreme weather event

ANI, May 30, 2015

Climate scientists call heat wave in India manifestation of extreme weather event

Bihar Prabha, May 30, 2015

Capital on cloud nine

The Hindu, May 31, 2015

India's Heat Wave Deadliest In Over Three Decades, Death Toll Crosses 2,000

International Business Times, May 30 2015

More heat waves in the offing: CSE

The Hindu, May 28, 2015

Laborers toiling in Indian heat wave say have little choice

Business Insider, May 29, 2015

Brace for more heat waves, say environment experts

India? Today, May 28, 2015

Indian hospitals are struggling as the heatwave death toll nears 1,500

?Business Insider, May 28, 2015

Climate change: Extreme heat wave in India could be a reason

The Financial Express, May 29, 2015

Heatwave kills nearly 1,500 in India; Andhra worst hit with 1,020 deaths

Mint, May 28, 2015

Indian city offers way to beat the heat as 1,786 killed in heat wave

Reuters, May 29, 2015

India heat wave kills 1,500 in taste of climate change impacts

RTCC, May 29, 2015

Hospitals overwhelmed as India heatwave deaths near 1,500

GMA News, May 28, 2015

India heatwave: Safety measures could have prevented hundreds of deaths, experts say

Radio Australia, May 29, 2015

India's scientists say more heat waves are coming, and they blame global warming

ABC, May 28, 2015

Doctors’ leave cancelled as heatwave toll rises to 1,100

Gulf Times, May 27, 2015

Temperature rising globally: around 1500 people killed in northern east India.

Journal Reporter, May 28, 2015

Heatwave continues in India, over 1800 dead

Anadolu Agency, May 28, 2015

The Science Behind an Indian Heat Wave

India Real Time, May 27, 2015

Heat Waves-CSE


More heat waves in offing due to rise in global temperatures: CSE

First Post, May 28, 2015

?Cities facing brunt of heat wave due to ‘urban heat island effect’: CSE

The Hindu Business Line, May 28, 2015

Heat wave kills nearly 1500: Green body warns of more agony

Hindustan Times, Hyderabad/New Delhi?, May 29, 2015

More heat waves coming, warns CSE

The Hindu, May 29, 2015

Death Toll In India's Heat-Wave Crosses 1800, Highest In 20 Years

The Huffington Post, May 29, 2015

No relief from India heatwave as death toll reaches 20-year high

The Guardian, May 29, 2015

India heat wave eases after nearly 1,700 deaths

BBC, May 29, 2015