Sunday, Jun 16, 2024 10:45 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Jun 16, 2024 05:12 [IST]

India’s Heat Wave Havoc: Record breaking


India is in the grip of a severe heat wave, with temperatures soaring to record breaking heights. The capital city of New Delhi has recorded temperatures above 45°C (113°F) for several days, leaving citizens reeling. India's heat wave is a stark reminder of the devastating impact of nature's wrath. The country is struggling to cope with the deadly consequences of rising temperatures, But India's heat wave is not just a result of the country's tropical location; it's a perfect storm of climate change, urbanization, and natural phenomena.



According to an article published by Al Jazeera on 29th April 2022 , the summers were recorded as the hottest  in 122 years. In the year 2023, as reported by an article published by The Hindu on 15th May, summers broke the record of 2000 years in the northern hemisphere. Several Indian cities recorded temperatures surpassing 50 degrees Celsius in 2024, the highest officially recorded in India. While Brazil was grappled with a devastating flood that killed hundreds and displaced thousands, South Africa suffered a deadly drought which broke the records of the 1947 drought in the country. In 2024, The past months of March and April had seen temperatures skyrocket across the nation, with the capital city of New Delhi recording a staggering 52 degrees Celsius  . The states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra have been the hardest hit, with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) for several days .Experts have warned of increased frequency and severity of heat waves as India already struggles to cope with the deadly consequences of rising temperatures.




The disturbing statistics should alarm everyone and force us to think what reasons or factors have contributed to such skyrocketing temperatures and heat waves. Like most people might think, global warming and climate change are not the alone reasons for such a catastrophe. Experts have listed out three most important contributing factors to the alarming climate conditions not just in India but across the world. They are-


Long-Term Climate Trends: Climate change might not be the sole reason behind the gripping heat waves but is definitely the most important one. Data shows a consistent rise in average global temperatures due to increased greenhouse gas emissions. This trend has made extreme heat events more frequent and intense.


Impact of Urbanization: A research conducted by the Yale University has shown that concrete and asphalt conduct more heat and contribute to the heat waves. The lack of green spaces exacerbates this effect, leading to higher temperatures in urban areas compared to rural regions. This effect is known as the Urban heat Island effect.


Natural phenomena like El Nino and ENSO- The ongoing El Nino effect had started in January 2023. According to the WHO, El Nino effect is the second largest contributing factor for the changing climate patterns of the Earth. The 2024 heat wave is heavily influenced by a strong El Niño event. El Niño typically results in higher temperatures and altered rainfall patterns in India.


The Indian Meteorological department has a standard criteria to declare a heat wave in India. If the temperature crosses 40°C in the plains, 37°C in the coastal area and 30 °C in the mountainous regions, a heatwave is declared. Apart from that, if the prevalent temperature is 4-5°C to 6-4°C more than normal then a heatwave alert is issued. IMD had issued severe heat wave warnings in the year 2023 and 2024 in regions like Kerela, where these alerts are barely issued. The extreme heat has severe health implications, increasing heat stroke cases and exacerbating chronic health conditions. Additionally, the heatwave impacts agriculture, water supply, and overall economic productivity, stressing the need for robust adaptation and mitigation strategies.



The solutions to combat heat waves on a local and global level are doable and actionable by the common people. Firstly, the use of air conditioners should be judicious. This might sound ridiculous when the sun is scorching outside but the air conditioners are temporarily relieving and permanently harmful. Realizing this, many countries have now adopted the technology of radiant cooling, which involves water channels with cool water running and keeping the temperature cool inside the house. This technique is not alien to India as ancient kings have used this technology to keep their palaces cool.  Another solution is to promote greenery by planting a lot of trees and also maintaining greenery in our homes. A research conducted by Yale University proved that houses that have plants growing in their roofs or terraces have a difference of at least 4 to 5°C from the outside temperature. Promoting to build more parks and gardens inside the cities can help the people have a walkable space as the temperature in places with greenery around is relatively less than the temperature in the heart of the city with concrete buildings and glass walls. Use of public transportation should be encouraged as cars emit heat and contribute to the rising temperatures.


The heat wave may have brought India to its knees, but it has also presented us with an opportunity to re-examine our priorities and take bold action to secure a sustainable future. We must seize this moment and work towards a climate-resilient India, where the ravages of heat waves are a thing of the past.



Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi