Heat Waves

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    Recently, Heat Wave Conditions observed in isolated pockets over Gangetic West Bengal, coastal Odisha, Saurashtra & Kutch according to the National Weather Forecasting Centre of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

    Heat Waves 

    • A Heat Wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western parts of India in the month March to June. 
    • Factors: The possible factors responsible for Heat Waves include shifting of jet streams, El-Nino and La-Nina, anthropogenic factors like heat islands etc. 

    Criteria To Define Heat Waves

    • The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has provided the following criteria to define Heat Waves:
      • Heat Wave need not be considered till the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C for Plains and at least 30°C for Hilly regions.
      • When  the normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40°C, then an increase of 5°C to 6°C from the normal temperature is considered to be heat wave condition.
        • Further, an increase of 7°C or more from the normal temperature is considered as severe heat wave condition.
      • When  the normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40°C, then an increase of 4°C to 5°C from the normal temperature is considered to be heat wave condition
        • Further, an increase of 6°C or more is considered as severe heat wave condition.
      • When the actual maximum temperature remains 45°C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, heat waves should be declared.

                                                                                                                             Image Courtesy: News18

    Implications of Heat Waves

    • It leads to physiological stress, which sometimes can claim human life. 
    • Exposure to heatwaves compromises the body’s ability to regulate temperature and can result in a cascade of illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and hyperthermia.
    • It affects the transmission of diseases, health service delivery, air quality, and critical social infrastructures such as energy, transport, and water.

    Strategies To Address Heat Waves

    • Establishment of  Early Warning System and Inter-Agency Coordination for prediction of heatwaves and issuance of alert. 
    • Public Awareness and community outreach to increase public awareness on how to protect against extreme heat through different mediums. 
    • Capacity building and training programme for health care professionals at different levels to recognize and respond to heatwave related illnesses. 
    • Collaboration with non-government organisations (NGOs) and civil society to provide support in distress situations.

    Additional information 

    • El Nino
      • This is a name given to the periodic development of a warm ocean current along the coast of Peru as a temporary replacement of the cold Peruvian current.
      • ‘El Nino’ is a Spanish word meaning ‘the child’, and refers to the baby Christ, as this current starts flowing during Christmas.
      •  The presence of the El Nino leads to an increase in sea-surface temperatures and weakening of the trade winds in the region
      • In a normal monsoon year (without El Nino), the pressure distribution along the coast of Peru in South America has a higher pressure than the region near northern Australia and South East Asia.
    • India Meteorological Department (IMD)
      • It was established in 1875.
      • It 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.
      • IMD has been continuously redefining its focus for accurate Prediction of Monsoon and cyclones as our GDP is mainly based on agriculture.
    • Initiatives of weather predictions
      • Mausam App: It is a new mobile application called “Mausam” for the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) which will help users track weather updates and also bring in the enhanced forecast as well as warning services from the government.
      • Meghdoot App: The Ministries of Earth Sciences and Agriculture have launched a mobile application that will provide location, and crop and livestock-specific weather-based agro advisories to farmers in local languages
      • Damini App: The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM)  launched ‘Damini’, a free mobile-based application that can warn people about lightning at least 30-45 minutes before it strikes.

    Source :PIB