South Asia braces for another heat wave
Megacities in South Asia are likely to face deadly heat waves this year as well, scientists have warned. At least 2,000 people died in India and 1,200 in Pakistan during a spate of extremely hot weather in 2015.
Central and northern India sweltering
Large parts of central and northern India were sweltering on Saturday as temperatures hovered between 36 and 44 degrees C (96.8 and 111.2 F), even though peak summer is more than a month away. The Indian Meteorological Department said there were "heat-wave to severe heat-wave conditions." The department had earlier warned that summer temperatures in 2017 were likely to be higher than normal.
Over 46 degrees in parts of Maharashtra
A district in India’s second most populous state, Maharashtra, recorded an unusually high temperature of 46.5 degrees C (114.8 F) on Wednesday. A day earlier, Bhira Town also recorded temperatures in excess of 46 degrees. Meanwhile, heat-wave warnings were also issued for Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Maharashtra, south UP, south Haryana, Chandigarh and interior Odisha.
Pakistan affected as well
Meanhwile, in neighboring Pakistan, temperatures in excess of 43 degrees C have engulfed parts of the southern province of Sindh. The cities of Nawab Shah and Larkana were the most affected, while several others, such as Mohenjo-Daro, Sukkur, Dadu & Hyderabad, also recorded temperatures above 40 degrees C.
Karachi on alert
Earlier this week, health authorities in Pakistan’s most populous city, Karachi, issued a heat-wave alert. The city administration is seeking cooperation from private hospitals to bolster preparations. Heatstroke relief centers are being established in all major public and private hospitals. Authorities have warned that the situation this year will be similar to the one in 2015.
Pakistan seriously hit by climate change
Currently, Pakistan ranks seventh in the list of 10 countries most affected by climate change globally, with 133 events directly attributed to it in the last two decades. They cost the country 3.82 billion dollars in losses incurred.
Megacities facing threats
A recently published report of the US National Academy of Sciences said there would be deadly heat waves, especially in megacities, even if global warming was limited to below 2 degrees C - the target set under the Paris climate agreement. The study's findings show that places like Karachi in Pakistan and Kolkata in India could expect conditions similar to the deadly 2015 heat waves.
Mounting human cost of global warming
At least 2,000 people died in India during the heat wave in 2015, when temperatures hovered near 50 degrees C. In Pakistan, the death toll stood at 1,200, with some local estimates putting it at around 3,000. On one day, the temperature in Karachi rose to 48 degrees C. This was measured at around 64 degrees on the heat index, which tries to indicate how such a temperature is perceived by humans.