What’s going on here?

Delhi is suffering another heatwave, reaching temperatures of 49°C. Extreme heat this spring has disrupted millions of lives and livelihoods across India and Pakistan. 

What does this mean?

We expect India and Pakistan to get hot at this time of year. The sun beats down strongly in April and May before the monsoon rains arrive. But this year, the heat kicked in early, with high temperatures in March.

In India, the average maximum temperatures for March were the highest in 122 years. A heatwave at the end of April reached temperatures of 43-46°C. And now again, on 15 May, the India Meteorological Department said that numerous observing stations reported temperatures of between 45°C and 50°C.

In Pakistan, highs of 50°C have been recorded and the Pakistan Meteorological Department stated that daytime temperatures are likely to be between 5°C and 8°C above normal in large swathes of the country. 

Why should we care?

The cost of extreme weather events is disproportionately borne by the poor. Hot dry weather poses a significant risk to human health and ability to work, which leads to reduced income. 

The impacts are exacerbated by power cuts, water shortages and healthcare pressures arising from increased demand for these services during heatwaves. 

Furthermore, in some places crop yields are dropping up to 50% due to extreme heat and melting Himalayan glaciers have caused flooding and damage to local infrastructure. 

Each time there is a “record breaking” or “unprecedented” heatwave, it should be a wake up call for the international community. We must take action to reduce carbon emissions and prevent further change.

Climate change is a factor in these extreme events. The IPCC states that the frequency and intensity of heat waves are and will continue to increase with warming. The World Meteorological Organisation stressed the importance of early weather warning systems to help reduce the impacts felt from heatwaves.

Be Curious!

Image credit: Heatwave in south Asia – in pictures | World news | The Guardian