The #heatwave in #India and #Pakistan is hitting many millions of people and the economy. Temps topped 45°C (113°F), will ease by 2 May#Heatwaves are one of the signs of #climatechange
Air temps at 1200 UTC from @CopernicusECMWF
WMO roundup at https://t.co/au1UovUieL pic.twitter.com/wGuZXIU2yS
— World Meteorological Organization (@WMO) April 29, 2022
WMO reiterated its commitment to “ensuring that multi-hazard early warning services reach the most vulnerable”.
Heat Health Action Plans
Both India and Pakistan have successful heat-health early warning systems and action plans already in place, including those specially tailored for urban areas.
They reduce heat mortality and lessen the social impacts of extreme heat, including lost work productivity.
Important lessons have been learned from the past and these are now being shared among all partners of the WMO co-sponsored Global Heat Health Information Network, to enhance capacity in the hard-hit region, WMO advanced.
Intense heat to continue
The India Meteorological Department said that maximum temperatures reached 43-46°C in widespread areas, on 28 April, and that this intense heat will continue until 2 May.
Similar temperatures have also been seen in Pakistan, with daytime temperatures likely to be between 5°C and 8°C above normal in large swathes of the country, said the Pakistan Meteorological Department.
They also warned that in the mountainous regions of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkwa, the unusual heat levels would accelerate snow and ice melt, with the possibility of triggering glacial lake floods – or flash floods in vulnerable areas.
Air quality has also deteriorated, and large swathes of land are at risk of fire outbreaks.
Consistent with ‘changing climate’
According to WMO, “it is premature to attribute the extreme heat in India and Pakistan solely to climate change”, however, the agency continues “it is consistent with what we expect in a changing climate”.
Furthermore, heatwaves are more frequent and more intense and starting earlier than in the past.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its recent Sixth Assessment Report, also said that heatwaves and humid heat stress would be more intense and frequent in South Asia this century.
The current heatwave was triggered by a high-pressure system and follows an extended period of above average temperatures.
India recorded its warmest March on record, with an average maximum temperature of 33.1 ºC, or 1.86 °C above the long-term average.
Pakistan also recorded its warmest March for at least the past 60 years, with a number of stations breaking March records.
In the pre-monsoon period, both India and Pakistan regularly experience excessively high temperatures, especially during May.
India has established a national framework for heat action plans through the National Disaster Management Authority which coordinates a network of state disaster response agencies and city leaders, to prepare for soaring temperatures and ensure that everyone is aware of heatwave protocols.
The city of Ahmedabad in India was the first South Asian city to develop and implement a city-wide heat health adaptation, in 2013, after experiencing a devastating heatwave in 2010. This successful approach has then been expanded to 23 heatwave-prone states and serves to protect more than 130 cities and districts.