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Heatwaves in India could soon break human survivability limit, says World Bank analysis

  • Published
    8th Dec, 2022
Context

A new report by the World Bank suggests India could soon become one of the first places in the world to experience heatwaves that break the human survivability limit.

Background

Key highlights of the Report

  • Report title: Climate Investment Opportunities in India’s Cooling Sector
  • India is experiencing higher temperatures that arrive earlier and stay far longer. 
  • India has witnessed a concurrent increase in meteorological droughts and heatwaves over the last 60 years, past studies have found. 
  • India was plunged into the grip of a punishing early spring heatwave in April 2022 that brought the country to a standstill.
    • Temperatures in the capital, New Delhi, topped 46 degrees Celsius. 

In August 2021, the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that the Indian subcontinent would suffer more frequent and intense heat waves over the coming decade. 

What are heat waves?

  • The India Meteorological Department qualitatively describes heatwave as a condition of air temperature which becomes fatal to the human body when exposed.
  • Quantitatively, it is defined based on the temperature thresholds over a region in terms of actual temperature or its departure from normal.
  • Declaration
    • Heatwave: A heatwave is declared when an area logs a maximum temperature of 45 degrees Celsius.
    • Severe heatwave: A severe heatwave is declared if the maximum temperature crosses 47 degrees.
  • For coastal regions, the heat waves may be described provided the actual maximum temperature is 37 degrees or more.

Impact

  • It can jeopardize economic productivity
  • Job losses
  • Impact on long-term food security and public health security 
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