Climate Trends Report


    In News

    A recent Report by Climate Trends flags that Climate crisis intensifies: Coastal areas may become unlivable by 2100.

    Key Findings

    • The report stated that people living in and near the coastal areas in India may be compelled to stay indoors during working hours for more than half of 2100. 
      • Severe heat conditions, and not the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, would be driving people to do so.
    • Most parts of India experience 12-66 days of potentially deadly heat and humidity combinations in a year — expressed by ‘wet bulb temperature’. It is an index that measures the impact of heat and humidity on the human body.

    Image Courtesy: TOI

    • A temperature increase of 4.3 degrees Celsius by 2100 relative to pre-industrial temperatures may happen under RCP (representative concentration pathway) 8.5 scenario. The wet bulb temperature will cross the deadly threshold for six months or more by another nine decades.
    • Even fit and acclimatised people can’t work at a wet bulb temperature of 32°C; at 35°C, even fit and acclimatised people sitting in the shade die within six hours.
    • The report warned of a substantial worsening of the situation even by 2050. Kolkata may experience 176 deadly heat-humid days; the Sundarbans 215; Cuttack 226; Brahmapur 233; Thiruvananthapuram 314; Chennai 229; Mumbai 171; and New Delhi 99.
    • India experienced 73 heat wave spells in 2019 against an average of 17 as measured during 1986-2016.

    Heat Wave

    • A heat wave is a period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity, especially in oceanic climate countries. 
    • While definitions vary, a heat wave is usually measured relative to the usual weather in the area and relative to normal temperatures for the season. 
    • It is considered extreme weather that can be a natural disaster, and a danger because heat and sunlight may overheat the human body. 
    • Heat waves can usually be detected using forecasting instruments so that a warning call can be issued.
    • Heat wave is considered if the maximum temperature of a station reaches: 
      • at least 40 degree C or more for Plains 
      • at least 30 degree C or more for Hilly regions

    Categories of Heat Wave

    • Based on Departure from Normal 
      • Heat Wave: Departure from normal is 4.5 degree C to 6.4 degree C 
      • Severe Heat Wave: Departure from normal is >6.4 degree C 
    • Based on Actual Maximum Temperature 
      • Heat Wave: When actual maximum temperature ≥ 45 degree C 
      • Severe Heat Wave: When actual maximum temperature ≥47 degree C 

    Favorable conditions for Heat Wave

    • Transportation / Prevalence of hot dry air over a region (There should be a region of warm dry air and appropriate flow pattern for transporting hot air over the region).
    • Absence of moisture in the upper atmosphere (As the presence of moisture restricts the temperature rise).
    • The sky should be practically cloudless (To allow maximum insulation over the region).
    • Large amplitude anticyclonic flow over the area.
      • Heat waves generally develop over Northwest India and spread gradually eastwards & southwards but not westwards (since the prevailing winds during the season are westerly to north westerly). 
      • But on some occasions, heat waves may also develop over any region in situ under the favorable conditions.

    Impact of Heat Exposure

    • There are five physiological mechanisms which are triggered by heat exposure: 
      • Ischemia (reduced and restricted blood flow), 
      • heat cytotoxicity (cell death), 
      • inflammatory response (swelling), 
      • disseminated intravascular coagulation (abnormal blood clotting), and 
      • rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of muscle fibres).
    • These mechanisms affect seven vital organs: Brain, heart, intestines, kidneys, liver, lungs and pancreas. 
    • There are 27 lethal combinations of these mechanisms and organs that have been shown to be caused by heat.
    • Severe heat waves have caused catastrophic crop failures, thousands of deaths from hyperthermia, and widespread power outages due to increased use of air conditioning.
    • The signs and symptoms are as follows:
      • Heat Cramps: Ederna (swelling) and Syncope (Fainting) generally accompanied by fever below 39°C i.e.102°F.
      • Heat Exhaustion: Fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.
      • Heat Stroke: Body temperatures of 40°C i.e. 104°F or more along with delirium, seizures or coma. This is a potential fatal condition.

    Way Ahead

    • Identifying the heat hotspots by proper tracking of meteorological data and providing necessary relief.
    • Encourage traditional methods of handling heat waves like wearing cotton clothes etc.
    • Reviewing labour laws and other regulations taking climatic conditions into account.
    • Improving the infrastructure setup like including shadowed windows, insulated houses etc.

    Indian meteorological Department

    • Established in 1875
    • The India Meteorological Department is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India. 
    • It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.

    Monitoring of heat wave

    • IMD has a big network of surface observatories covering the entire country to measure various meteorological parameters like Temperature, Relative humidity, pressure, wind speed & direction etc. 
    • Based on daily maximum temperature station data, climatology of maximum temperature is prepared for the period 1981-2010 to find out the normal maximum temperature of the day for a particular station. 
    • Thereafter, IMD declares a heat wave over the region as per its definition. 

    Sources: DTE