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Monsoon Delay Caused Extreme Heat, Affecting 600 Million Indians in June: Report

A report by Climate Central reveals that India was the worst affected by June's extreme heatwave, impacting 619 million people and causing over 40,000 cases of heatstroke.

KJ Staff
Monsoon Delay Caused Extreme Heat, Affecting 600 Million Indians in June: Report (Image Source: Pexels)
Monsoon Delay Caused Extreme Heat, Affecting 600 Million Indians in June: Report (Image Source: Pexels)

An independent group of scientists based in the US says in its latest report that India turned out to be the worst affected with millions of people bearing the brunt of torrid weather conditions in the month of June. More than 60 per cent of the world’s population faced extreme heat that was made at least three times more likely by human-induced climate change in mid-June, say scientists at Climate Central, which studies data on climate change and analyses its impact on people.

Between June 16 and June 24, India's excessive heat is believed to have affected around 619 million people, with more than 40,000 suffering from heatstroke. In China, around 579 million people were impacted, while this number was 231 million in Indonesia, the report said.

The scientists at Climate Central found that 4.97 billion people experienced extreme heat -- made at least three times more by climate change -- over the period. According to a statement from Climate Central, India experienced one of its worst-ever and long-running heatwaves, which finally subsided in mid-June. The extreme conditions left more than 40,000 people suffering from heatstroke and resulted in over 100 deaths. Temperatures reached nearly 50°C, with a night-time low of 37°C, reportedly the highest ever recorded in the country.

At least 1,300 people in Saudi Arabia have died as a result of heat-related diseases during the Hajj pilgrimage.  In Greece, the Acropolis in Athens had to be closed due to temperatures above 43°C, which is unusual for this time of year. Among the tragedies caused by the heatwave, six tourists died. The eastern coast of the United States faced an extreme heatwave. In New York, health officials reported a 500-600% increase in heat-related emergency visits, Climate Central said.

Andrew Pershing, Vice President for Science at Climate Central, noted that over a century of burning coal, oil, and natural gas has led to a progressively hazardous world, with heatwaves becoming more frequent and severe due to carbon pollution. He pointed out that the monsoon delay exacerbated the extreme heat in northwest India in June, leading to at least 100 deaths.

Climate Central’s global Climate Shift Index (CSI) — launched in 2022 — is a tool that maps the influence of climate change on daily temperatures across the world. The CSI ranges from -5 to +5, with positive levels indicating temperatures that are becoming more likely due to climate change and negative scores indicating conditions that are becoming less likely. For example, a CSI of level three means that a temperature occurs three times more frequently at a location when compared to a world without human-caused climate change.

Their findings suggest that more than 60% of the world’s population — 4.97 billion people — faced extreme heat that was made at least three times more likely by climate change between June 16 and 24 this year. While India saw one of its warmest and longest heat waves, with over 40,000 suspected heat stroke cases and 100 heat-related fatalities, the extreme heat overwhelmed the water supply and power grids, leaving Delhi with a major water crisis.

The high temperatures have resulted in an increase in energy usage across the country, leading the government to impose regular power outages to avoid overloading the electric grid.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), around 40 per cent of the country recorded double the number of heatwave days than usual during the April-June period. Temperatures breached 50 degrees Celsius in parts of Rajasthan, with nighttime temperatures hovering around 35 degrees Celsius in many places.

According to media reports, there have been over 60 heat-related deaths in Delhi this year, which has had 40 straight days with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius since May 13.

Experts explained that the fatalities occur because the body doesn’t get rest. Normally, night is the time to recuperate from the impact of extreme heat, but if one does not get rest at night, then the body will be in overdrive leading to death.

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