Children, elderly people and those with chronic diseases are most susceptible to the heat impact.

Delhi temperatures hit a record high, several casualties reported in Rajasthan 

Delhi temperatures crossed a record high of 52.9 °C in Delhi’s Mungeshpur on Wednesday, more than 12 degrees higher than expected, but India’s weather office, the IMD said, that it could be an error or because of local factors. However it was the second day of record-breaking heat according to IMD. On Tuesday it recorded 49.9 °C in Mungeshpur and Narela, breaking the 2002 record of 49.2 °C.

Children, elderly people and those with chronic diseases are most susceptible to the heat impact. More than 50 students were rushed to hospital in the town of Sheikhpura in Bihar after fainting due to high temperatures, local media reported. In Jammu and Kashmir, authorities are tackling a number of forest fires that are being fuelled by the heat.

The soaring temperatures have also been linked to scorching winds from Rajasthan state, where temperatures reached just above 50°C.

Meanwhile, a new study by Delhi-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) revealed a worrying phenomenon. Cities are not cooling down at night as much as they did during 2001-2010.  A report in HT stated 23 states have heat action plans, but they are not being implemented. Only four heat action plans identified the elderly, children, and pregnant women as being vulnerable to heat-related illness.

Monsoon hits Kerala, arrives earlier than usual

India’s monsoon season arrived earlier than usual this year. Kerala reported heavy rainfall on Thursday and the regional meteorological centre in Thiruvananthapuram issued an ‘orange rain alert’. Last year, the monsoon season was delayed by a week and arrived on on June 8. Monsoon onset over Kerala is an important indicator characterising the transition from a hot and dry season to a rainy season, HT reported, adding that India’s agriculture ministry data says 51% of farmed areas, accounting for 40% of production, are rain-fed, making the monsoon critical, HT reported.

Cyclone Remal hits Bangladesh and India, leaving destruction and death

Cyclone Remal, which made landfall in low-lying Bangladesh and neighbouring India on May 26 evening with fierce gales and crashing waves, left at least 38 people dead, destroyed thousands of homes, smashed seawalls and flooded cities across the two countries, AFP reported. 

Rescue workers have so far retrieved 29 bodies from several landslide-hit locations in and around Mizoram’s capital Aizawl. The toll includes 12 workers, who died on May 28 when a stone quarry collapsed in Mizoram, because of torrential rains as the storm progressed inland.

Bangladesh’s weather experts said the deadly cyclone was one of the quickest-forming and longest-lasting they’d experienced, blaming climate change for the shift.  In Bangladesh, the storm killed 13 people and damaged or destroyed more than 35,000 homes across the coastal areas, affecting about 3.5 million people.

Two persons died in two different incidents in Manipur‘s Senapati district due to landslide and flooding after Remal triggered heavy rainfall, according to officials.

Climate change has intensified “flash droughts” by 60%, 80% and 90% in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, respectively: Study  

Man-made climate change has intensified flash droughts in the spring-summer season, with attributable risk of 60%, 80%, and 90% for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, respectively, according to new research. The scientists warned that flash droughts will expand and worsen in the future, requiring adaptation measures for the water, agriculture, and energy sectors.

The researchers said flash droughts are more common and intense in the crop season, especially in central India, western Pakistan, and eastern Afghanistan. They are caused by persistent atmospheric patterns that block moisture transport to South Asia. Flash droughts are abrupt and rapid intensification of droughts that affect agriculture, water, and ecosystems and are commonplace in South Asia.

Flash droughts in south Asia are caused by persistent atmospheric patterns that block moisture transport, the researchers said. They are “more common and intense in the crop season, especially in central India, western Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan”.

Farmland trees that provide shade decline at alarming rate amid heat surge: Study

A new study found that India’s farmlands have lost large trees with big crowns at an alarming rate. Of the 0.6 billion farmland trees mapped In India in 2010-11, around 11% had disappeared by 2018, the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management at the University of Copenhagen study said. These are trees with about 96 sqm crown cover.

Most of the trees have been lost in Telangana, Haryana, Kerala, Maharastra, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, where extreme heat is more pronounced. 

The study noted that trees such as jackfruit, jamun, mahua, neem and others offer shade and are a source of livelihood for small farmers. Moreover, during 2018-2022, more than five million large farmland trees (about 67 sqm crown cover) have vanished, partly due to altered cultivation practices, where trees on farms are perceived as detrimental to crop yields.

Authors said this is a setback to agroforestry as a pivotal natural climate solution, important for supporting agricultural livelihoods and improving biodiversity. The authors of the study said 56% of India is covered by farmland, and only 20% is covered by forest. While the separation of forests and tree plantations is not always clear, it is certain that these classifications exclude a large part of India’s trees scattered within farmlands, in urban areas or grown as hedgerows, the authors said.

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