July 6, 2021: According to a recent article issued by India’s leading meteorologists, the deaths due to heatwaves in India are over 17,000 people in the last 50 years. From 1971 to 2019, the country had 706 heatwaves, according to the paper.
Deaths due to heatwaves in India- a study article
Mm Rajeevan, Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Science, and scientists Kamaljit Ray, S. S. Ray, R. K. Giri, and A. P. Dimri published a study article earlier this year. The paper’s principal author is Kamaljit Ray. One of the extreme weather events (EWE) is a heat wave. EWE killed 1,41,308 individuals in 50 years (1971-2019).
According to the study, 17,362 people died as a result of the heatwave, accounting for little over 12% of all deaths.
Deaths due to heatwaves in India: Vulnerable areas to heatwave
Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Odisha had the highest number of heat-related deaths, according to the study.
The Core Heatwave Zone (CHZ) is the most vulnerable area to heatwaves (HW) and severe heat waves (SHW) in May, with the highest frequency of occurrence.
Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana are among the states covered by the CHZ.
The study is significant in light of recent heat waves in various parts of the northern hemisphere. A severe heat wave raced through areas of Canada and the United States earlier this week, killing dozens of people. A temperature of more than 49 degrees Celsius was set in Vancouver, setting a new record.
The north Indian plains and hills were also scorched by the heat. Earlier this week, temperatures in many regions of the plains were beyond 40 degrees Celsius. Heatwaves, an extreme weather event, and lightning have all been linked to an increase in mortality in vulnerable states, according to the study.
Declaration of heatwave
Only when the actual temperature of a station is 40 degrees Celsius for the plains and 30 degrees Celsius for mountainous regions is a heatwave declared. Heatwave conditions are announced when the maximum temperature is 40 degrees Celsius for coastal stations and 45 degrees Celsius for other locations.
When the actual maximum temperature is higher than the normal maximum temperature, which is greater than 40 degrees Celsius, a heatwave is declared. Earth Sciences Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a written response to a question on heat waves in the Lok Sabha in January 2020 that recent studies reveal an increase in temperatures as well as the prevalence of heatwaves in several parts of the country in recent years.
Causes behind heatwave
Global warming, which he linked to an increase in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere, is one of the reasons for the rise in heat waves, he added. Andhra Pradesh (1), Jharkhand (2), Maharashtra (6), Odisha (8), Telangana (12), and West Bengal all experienced heat waves in 2017.
There were 12 heatwaves in 2018: two in Uttar Pradesh, five in Maharashtra, one in Jharkhand, three in Kerala, and one in Chhattisgarh. There were 26 heatwaves in Maharashtra (15), Kerala (6), Bihar (4), and Rajasthan (4) in 2019.
Heatwave is also associated with health risks. Four common health impacts resulting from excessive exposure to heat waves include dehydration, cramps, exhaustion and heatstroke.
It is also learnt that there is a sharp rise in the number of cases of acute gastroenteritis and food poisoning due to spoilage of food and reduction of its shelf life owing to high temperatures.
There is also a rise in the number of cases of anxiety, palpitations, nervousness and behavioural change linked to extreme temperature rise, Vardhan had said.