It is premature to attribute extreme heat in India and Pakistan solely to climate change, but heat waves are more intense: WMO

While large parts of India and Pakistan are experiencing scorching temperatures, the UN’s specialized meteorological agency said it is premature to attribute the extreme heat in the two countries solely to climate change. consistent with a changing climate, with heat waves starting earlier than expected. in the old days.

Extreme heat is gripping large parts of India and Pakistan, affecting hundreds of millions of people in one of the world’s most densely populated regions, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday.

He said that according to India’s meteorological department, maximum temperatures reached 43-46 degrees C in wide areas on April 28 and that intense heat will continue until May 2. Pakistan’s meteorological department said daytime temperatures were likely to be between 5 degrees C and 8 degrees Celsius above normal across large swathes of the country.

“It is premature to attribute the extreme heat in India and Pakistan solely to climate change. However, it is consistent with what we expect in a changing climate. Heat waves are more frequent and intense and start earlier than in the past,” the WMO said.

The global body added that the national meteorological and hydrological services of both countries are working closely with health and disaster management agencies to roll out heat action plans that have been successful in saving lives over the past few months. last years.

“Heatwaves have multiple and cascading impacts not only on human health, but also on ecosystems, agriculture, water and energy supplies and key sectors of the economy,” the official said. WMO, adding that the risks to society underline why it is committed to ensuring that multi-early warning services reach the most vulnerable.

He noted that the heatwave was triggered by a high-pressure system and followed a long period of above-average temperatures. India recorded its hottest March on record, with an average maximum temperature of 33.1 degrees Celsius, 1.86 degrees Celsius above the long-term average. Pakistan also recorded its hottest March in at least 60 years, with a number of stations breaking March records.

“During the pre-monsoon period, India and Pakistan regularly experience excessively high temperatures, particularly in May. Heat waves occur in April but are less frequent. It is too early to know whether new national records temperature will be established,” the WMO said.

WMO noted that India has established a national framework for heat action plans through the National Disaster Management Authority, which coordinates a network of disaster response agencies. disaster and municipal leaders to prepare for soaring temperatures and ensure everyone is aware of the do’s and don’ts of a heat wave. .

He added that the city of Ahmedabad was the first city in South Asia to develop and implement city-wide heat health adaptation in 2013 after experiencing a devastating heat wave in 2010.

“This successful approach has been extended to 23 heat wave-prone states and serves to protect more than 130 cities and districts,” he said.

The WMO added that both India and Pakistan have effective heat and health early warning systems and action plans, including those specifically designed for urban areas. Heat action plans reduce heat-related mortality and mitigate the social impacts of extreme heat, including loss of 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 and Health Information Network to build capacity in the hard-hit region” , did he declare.

The WMO said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its Sixth Assessment Report, said heat waves and damp heat stress will be more intense and frequent in Asia. of the South during this century.

The WMO also cited an open access publication recently released by the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences which points out that the frequency of extreme temperatures over India has increased between 1951 and 2015, with warming trends accelerating over the past year. the recent 30-year period 1986-2015.

The publication also notes that the frequency, duration, intensity and geographical coverage of pre-monsoon heatwaves in India are expected to increase significantly during the 21st century.

Civil society, such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society and Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe), also plays a critical role, deploying life-saving communications and interventions to vulnerable communities, a WMO said.