Mercury rising: More heat wave deaths in 2001-2015 than in previous 3 decades

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on March 12, 2019 Published on March 12, 2019

2018 was sixth warmest year since records started to be maintained, in 1901

India sizzles in the summer, and the heat wave has been taking a stiff toll of human lives.

The highest number of deaths due to heat wave conditions was registered in the 15 years from 2001 to 2015 compared to the previous three decades, according to the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

The Ministry informed the Rajya Sabha last month that the average temperature over India during 2018 was significantly above normal.

Sixth warmest year

“During the year, the country’s annual mean surface air temperature averaged +0.39 degrees Celcius above the average for the 1981-2010 period. The year 2018 was the sixth warmest year on record since nation-wide records began to be maintained, in 1901,” the Ministry stated. According to the data, during the unusually hot episodes, deaths from different causes can rise significantly with the elderly at greater risk than others.

“India has experienced manifold increase in the human deaths during the many heat wave years like 1971, 1987, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2013 and 2015. Recent years (2001-2015) have registered the highest number of deaths due to heat wave events compared to the previous three decades,” the Ministry added.

Core Hot Zones

“A latest study shows that heat wave episodes have increased in many parts of the country. In India, the heat wave conditions are generally experienced from March to July... April to June being most prone,” the Ministry stated adding that it has been observed that during the hot weather season, stations from the North, North-west, Central, East India and North-East Peninsula — known as the Core Hot Zone (CHZ) — are most prone to severe heat wave days with the highest frequency during May.

The CHZ covers the States of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana and Met subdivisions of Marathwada, Vidarbha, Madhya Maharashtra and coastal Andhra Pradesh.

Noticeable decadal variation is also observed in the frequency, spatial coverage and area of maximum frequency in the hot wave and severe hot wave days. Significant increasing trends in the hot wave days were observed in many stations in the CHZ.

Published on March 12, 2019
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