Temperatures during India’s monsoon season have climbed this century, and the nation may face more regular heatwaves in the future, according to the government, which also noted that heat-related mortality have decreased in recent years.

This year, India saw its warmest March in more than a century, and temperatures were abnormally high in April and May as well, owing mostly to climate change. According to the authorities, heatwaves are most prevalent between April and June.

“The average temperature during the monsoon season is found to be rising in the last two decades,” Jitendra Singh, India’s science, technology, and earth sciences minister, told parliament.

“The warming of the tropical Indian Ocean and more frequent El Nino events in future may lead to more frequent and long-lasting heatwaves over India.”

El Nino is defined by a spike in Pacific sea-surface temperatures. It generates torrential rainfall and flooding in South America, as well as hot temperatures in Asia and east Africa.

According to Singh, the average temperature in India during the June-September monsoon season soared to approximately 28.4 degrees Celsius (83.1 degrees Fahrenheit) last year, up from less than 28 degrees Celsius in 2001.

Heatwave fatalities, on the other hand, have decreased in recent years, according to statistics presented to MPs by Singh, which referenced media accounts.

India has 24 such deaths this year until July, compared to none last year and 25 in 2020. In 2019, there were 505 fatalities, a multi-year high.

The minister did not explain why there have been fewer fatalities in recent years, but a government official previously told Reuters that most Indian states now have plans in place to change office and school hours, as well as working hours for laborers, in order to avoid the hottest time of day, in an effort to reduce exposure. 

According to the World Health Organization, heatwaves killed more than 166,000 people worldwide between 1998 and 2017. Climate change is anticipated to cause around 250,000 more fatalities each year between 2030 and 2050 due to starvation, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress, according to the report.

Source: Reuters

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