What is Heat Wave?
A heatwave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, a common phenomenon in India during the months of May-June and in some rare cases even extends till July.
What is the Criteria for Declaring a Heatwave?
The Heatwave is considered when the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C for Plains and at least 30°C for Hilly regions.
What are the Impacts of Heat Waves In India?
Economic Impacts: The frequent occurrence of heat waves also adversely affects different sectors of the economy. For instance, the livelihood of poor and marginal farmers is negatively impacted due to the loss of working days. Heatwaves also have an adverse impact on daily wage workers’ productivity, impacting the economy.
Impact on Agriculture Sector: Crop yields suffer when temperatures exceed the ideal range.
Farmers in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh have reported losses in their wheat crop in the past rabi season. Across India, wheat production could be down 6-7% due to heat waves.
Livestock is also vulnerable to heatwaves.
Impact on Electricity Usage: Naturally, heatwaves impact power load.
In the North India, the average daily peak demand in April was 13% higher than 2021 and 30% higher in May.
Human Mortality: Mortality due to heat waves occurs because of rising temperature, lack of public awareness programmes, and inadequate long-term mitigation measures.
Food Insecurity: The concurrence of heat and drought events are causing crop production losses and tree mortality.
Impact on Workers: Workers in sectors like agriculture and construction will be severely impacted in 2030 because India’s large population depends on these sectors for their livelihoods.
Way forward to sustainability
- The most effective way to avoid the negative impacts of heatwaves is to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and minimising the rise in global mean temperatures.
- New initiatives to create early warning and response systems and improved communication approaches can help to save lives and build resilience to heat waves.
- Decision-makers can employ a range of strategies and policies to modify social behaviour and reduce exposure to heat by closing schools or offices, which lack adequate air conditioning, ensuring availability of water, health care, and first aid, and extending access to pools, parks, and public cooling centers
- Improved urban design and sustainable planning that increases access to green space and other cool environments (pools, air-conditioned spaces) and encourages white roofs.