In West Bengal, Kalaikunda at 45.8°C recorded the highest maximum temperature followed by Panagarh at 44.6ºC.

Heatwave: Bengal, Odisha on red alert, even Kerala backwaters, Ooty and Bengaluru sizzle

Heatwaves have spread across the country with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) sounding a ‘Red alert’ in 8 districts of Bengal and in Odisha and Bihar, at least till Thursday. In West Bengal, Kalaikunda at 45.8°C recorded the highest maximum temperature followed by Panagarh at 44.6ºC. Bengal and Odisha are also experiencing warm night conditions and high relative humidity of around 50% to 75% in the afternoon, creating a deadly mix of extremely hot, humid days and nights, HT reported.

Areas that usually don’t experience heat waves have come into its grips: parts of Kerala, resort towns of Ooty (Tamil Nadu), Matheran (Maharashtra) in the Western Ghats, and Bengaluru, are facing temperatures between 38-39°C, HT reported, adding that 186 of the 191 seats, where polls are due in the next two phases, will have peak temperatures above 35°C in the next five days. Around 136 constituencies may go above 40°C and impact voter turnouts, which have been low in the first two phases.

Mumbai and its adjoining areas witnessed heatwave conditions, with daytime temperatures breaching the 37-degree mark. The IMD Santacruz observatory recorded maximum temperatures of 38.1°C on April 28, which was 4.4°C above normal.

The Election Commission ordered Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) at polling stations such as water and shade, tap facility for drinking water or drinking water pots and environment-friendly disposable glasses may be made available for drinking water.

Uttarakhand records highest number of large forest fires in India in last week of April

Uttarakhand recorded the highest number of large forest fires in the country between April 23 and April 30, according to Forest Survey of India (FSI) data. The state recorded 201 large forest fire incidents during this period compared to 11 large forest fire incidents in the same period last year. Major forest fires continue to rage in different parts of the state. The state continues to battle the menace, which threatens biodiversity as well as local communities, despite advancements in satellite-based technologies aiding real-time monitoring by the state forest department. 

Unseasonal rains damage sugarcane, mangoes, grapes and wheat crops in Marathwada and Vidarbha

Parts of Vidarbha and Marathwada experienced unseasonal rain, thunder and hailstorms causing heavy agricultural losses. The heaviest rain was registered in Yavatmal district. Nagpur and Wardha reported 7 mm and 3 mm rainfall on respectively until April 11. Vidarbha recorded 10.6 mm rainfall between April 4 and 10, whereas Marathwada recorded only 1.3 mm rainfall (below normal by 18%). Reportedly, crops such as wheat, sugarcane, vegetables and fruits (mangoes, grapes and lemons) suffered extensive damage in Vidarbha and Marathwada, HT reported. 

As per the IMD, the maximum temperature in Vidarbha dropped 11-14°C below normal, but central Maharashtra constantly recorded up to 2.5°C above normal (Pune, Shivajinagar recorded a maximum temperature of 39°C). 

Climate change: Extreme droughts and rain events dodge the IMD predictions ?

The India Meteorological Department (IMD), only for the second time in the 21st century, has predicted an above-normal monsoon in 2024, reported the Mint. The total rainfall between June and September is estimated at 106% of the long-period average (LPA), the IMD said. The newspaper said the last time it predicted above-normal monsoon, in 2016, the rainfall ended up being much lower (97.4%).  Analysing the data, the outlet said the IMD’s biggest under-prediction of rainfall (outside of the acceptable range) also came in the past five years. This happened thrice between 2019 and 2023, with the biggest miss in 2019, when the actual rainfall was 110.4% of LPA, against a prediction of 96% of LPA. Of late, the country has been witnessing growing instances of extreme weather conditions.

The newspaper said the IMD has been fairly successful in predicting normal monsoons, but the real challenge lies in predicting droughts and extreme rainfall. Since 2001, the country has had five deficient-rainfall years (2002, 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2015), out of which four ended with droughts, In the first three of these years, IMD had predicted a normal rainfall, over-projecting with an average error of nearly 18% of LPA. In 2014 and 2015, the error stood around 7%. Out of the eight normal-monsoon years since 2001, IMD got it right five times, under-projected twice and over-projected just once.

Hundreds of glacial lakes expanding in Himalayan region a ‘major risk’: ISRO

Over one in every four glacial lakes larger than 10 hectares in area in the Himalayas have grown in size since 1984, increasing the risk of a glacial lake outburst flood or GLOF, reported HT. Long-term satellite imagery covering the Himalayas revealed that of the 2,431 glacial lakes larger than 10 hectares in area identified in 2016-17, 676 glacial lakes have expanded notably since 1984. The Indian Space Research Organisation said 130 of the 676 are within India, with 65, seven, and 58 lakes located in the Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra River basins, respectively. 

The agency pointed out that long-term changes in the Gepang Gath glacial lake (Indus River Basin) at an elevation of 4,068 m in Himachal Pradesh, shows a 178% increase in size from 36.49 to 101.30 hectares between 1989 and 2022. Its a major risk that can potentially affect the Manali Leh highway and population downstream, the ISRO warned.

Extreme Dubai rainfall linked to climate change, not cloud seeding: Scientists

It is misleading to link extreme rainfall that struck Dubai nearly two weeks ago with cloud seeding, scientists said. The rainfall triggered the worst flooding in over seven decades in one of the world’s most advanced but arid cities. The intensity of the rainfall sparked speculation that cloud seeding may have led to it, prompting climate scientists to underline the climate change link to it, reported HT. 

The newspaper quoted Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer at the Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment stating that “Cloud seeding cannot create clouds from nothing that encourages water…already in the atmosphere to condense faster and drop water in certain places…first you do need moisture. Without it, there would be no clouds. Even if cloud seeding did encourage clouds around Dubai to drop water, the atmosphere would have likely been carrying more water to form clouds in the first place because of human-induced climate change.”

“If humans continue to burn oil, gas, and coal, the climate will continue to warm, rainfall will continue to get heavy and people will continue to lose their lives in floods.” Otto concluded. 

Floods swamp southern China, spark extreme weather fears

Guangdong, the most populous province in southern China, has been battered by unusually heavy, sustained and widespread rainfall, with powerful storms ushering in an earlier-than-normal start to the province’s annual flooding season in May and June, Reuters reported. The heavy rain killed four people, with 10 others remaining missing in the province. The newswire said weather events in China have become more intense and unpredictable because of global warming, scientists say, with record-breaking rainfall and drought assailing the world’s second-largest economy, often at the same time.

Asia remained the world’s most disaster-hit region from weather, climate and water-related hazards in 2023, states a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The highest number of recorded deaths and financial losses were because of floods and storms, while the effects of heatwaves were increasingly severe.

The State of the Climate in Asia 2023 report highlighted the accelerating rate of key climate change indicators such as surface temperature, glacier retreat and sea level rise. In Asia, there were 79 recorded catastrophes linked to hydro-meteorological hazard events in 2023. Of them, more than 80% had to do with storm and flood-related incidents, resulting in over 2,000 deaths and nine million impacted individuals. Even though excessive heat is becoming a greater health danger, heat-related death is often not documented, the report said. Asia is warming faster than the global average. The warming trend has nearly doubled since the 1961–1990 period.

UN labour agency report warns of rising threat of excess heat, climate change on world’s workers

The UN labour organisation released a new report warning that more than 70% of the world’s workforce are “likely to be exposed to excessive heat during their careers”, the Associated Press reported. “The ILO estimates that over 2.4 billion workers – more than 70% of the global workforce – are likely to face excessive heat as part of their jobs at some point, according to the most recent figures available, from 2020. That’s up from over 65% in 2000.” 

Meanwhile, new research published in Nature warned that by 2050, the world will lose $38 trillion to climate change, dragging down average income by 19%. Poorest countries may have income reductions 8.9 percentage points greater than richest countries. The world is already committed to a 19% permanent average reduction in incomes across countries due to warming and consequent changes in climate by 2050, the study pointed out. 

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