The most heatwave-prone areas are Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and north Karnataka followed by Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, north Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

Expect more than double the number of heatwaves this summer: IMD

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned that most of India will face “extreme heat” between April and June and more than double the number of heatwave days than is usually seen at this time of the year, HT reported.

The outlet added that around 10 to 20 days of heat waves are expected in various parts of the country against the usual four to eight days seen in a usual year. The most heatwave-prone areas are Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and north Karnataka followed by Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, north Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, IMD said in its outlook.

Experts attributed the higher likelihood of heatwaves and the hotter summer in general to the El Nino phenomenon (warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which in turns leads to a cascading effect across the world). This year’s El Nino is one of the five strongest-ever recorded. El Nino is a naturally occurring climate pattern associated with warming of the ocean surface in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. It influences weather and storm patterns in different parts of the world. But it takes place in the context of a climate being changed by human activities,” the WMO said earlier this month.

Other experts attributed the record-breaking heat globally last year to the climate crisis; heat-trapping greenhouse gases are unequivocally the main culprit.

Heat, aridity, clear skies: Why forests are already ablaze in the Nilgiris

In South India, most forest-covered areas of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have seen fire incidents in March. For almost a week, forest fires were raging in the Coonoor forest range in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu. The Indian Air Force joined the ongoing firefighting efforts of the state forest department, deploying an Mi-17 V5 helicopter to conduct multiple “Bambi Bucket” operations that dumped some 16,000 litres of water on the fires.

November to June is considered forest fire season in India. The biennial India State of Forest Report (ISFR) published by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change recorded in its 2019 report that more than 36% of India’s forest cover was prone to frequent fires. About 4% of the forest cover was ‘extremely prone’ to fire, and another 6% was ‘very highly’ fire prone (ISFR 2019).

Crowded and warmer: Unequal dengue risk at high spatial resolution across a megacity of India

According to a new study, the poorest and most crowded neighbourhoods of Delhi could face the largest increases in dengue fever transmission risks as temperatures increase. The research examines how both temperature and human population density, which affects the breeding rate of dengue-carrying mosquitoes, could impact disease transmission in the megacity, reported the web portal Journals. The researchers made a highly detailed map of dengue disease risk in Delhi, at a resolution of 250m by 250m. The researchers say: “Results underscore the inequity of risk across a complex urban landscape, whereby individuals in dense poor neighbourhoods face the compounded effect of higher temperatures and mosquito carrying capacity.”

Ladakh wants to prevent what happened in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand & Sikkim: Sonam Wangchuk

To protect the ecologically fragile Himalayan region, environmentalist Sonam Wangchuk went on a 21-day fast demanding the implementation of the Indian Constitution’s Sixth Schedule and statehood for the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh. He said his movement wants to prevent tragedies (such as land subsidence) similar to those that have occurred across Himalayan regions like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim over the past few decades. 

Himalayan tragedies in Ladakh, Himachal and Joshimath have been blamed on projects extracting natural resources in the region. Himachal saw huge destruction last year. People died and property worth crores destroyed, according to reports. Activists blamed it on  projects promoting tourism, hydel power and four-lane highways, reported Down to Earth. Wangchuk and other environmentalists called for setting up ‘People’s Commission for Himalayas’.

Record heat index of 62.3°C scorches Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, Kuwait braces for ‘unliveable’ summers 

Rio de Janeiro’s is battling “stifling” heat wave as heat index hit 62.3°C (144.1°F), the highest in a decade. The heat index measures what a temperature feels like by taking into account humidity, AlJazeera reported. The actual maximum temperature in the city was 42°C on Monday. The last time heat index record was set in November at 59.7°C (139.5F). The southern region of the country was hit by extreme rains that are forecast to continue next week, according to authorities, the news outlet said.

Meanwhile, the Kuwaiti government issued an edict allowing funerals to be conducted at night. Expecting very high summer temperatures (the city regularly breaches 52°C during summers), Mirror reported adding that Kuwaitis rarely venture outdoors during summer, but  migrant workers bear the brunt outdoors. There is now an entire indoor shopping street, lined with palm trees and European-style boutiques, the report said. Climate scientists are predicting that temperatures will be up 5.5C by the end of the century. Annual rainfall has been dropping in the already arid country, the frequency and intensity of dust storms increasing as a result, the report said.

Humid heat waves in southern West Africa made 10 times more likely by climate change: Study

New research conducted in West Africa says humid heatwaves usually occur in March or April, but they arrived in February 2024. The humid heatwaves in southern West Africa in February, would have been ‘impossible’ without human-induced climate change, according to an analysis by the international team of leading climate scientists from the World Weather Attribution group, released March 22, 2024.  

The researchers found that climate change made the heatwave as measured by the heat index about 4°C hotter. While the average air temperature in West Africa was above 36°C, the heat index for the same period was about 50°C. The combination of humidity and high temperatures caused dangerous conditions. The heat index even entered the level of ‘extreme danger’ that is associated with high risk of heat stroke, with values up to 60°C, said the analysis which involved scientists from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Switzerland, Sweden, South Africa, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

A warming climate will make Australian soil a net emitter of atmospheric CO2

As global temperatures rise, Australia will become hotter and drier and its soils will become a net emitter of CO2, according to new research. Studying the changes in Australia’s soil organic carbon stock from 2010 to 2100, the research shows losses of 0.014-0.077 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year over 2020-45 and 0.013-0.047 tonnes for 2070-2100, under increasing emissions of greenhouse gases and temperature. These predicted net losses of soil carbon will “significantly affect Australia’s ability to achieve its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target”, the authors said. They added that to shift to a more sustainable pathway, Australia “must embrace existing GHG removal technologies and develop new large-scale solutions to achieve sustainability”, reported the study published in NPJ Climate and Atmospheric Science.

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