A man pours drinking water on his head to get respite from scorching heat on a hot summer day in New Delhi

(PIYAL BHATTACHARJEE/BCCL)

While extreme heat waves in the states of the northwest draw maximum public attention, the increase in overall anomalous temperature in other regions of the country has been largely neglected, indicated a new country-wide analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Thursday.

The seasonal average air temperature for the 2022 summer was 1.24°C warmer than the baseline trends. Moreover, the heat waves lashing India this summer are symptomatic of the anomalous temperature trends that are expected to worsen with growing climate change impacts, it said.

This year’s summer was the second hottest after the summer of 2010. Megacities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad are much hotter than the larger region around them due to heat island effects caused by surface absorption of heat and local waste heat generated by traffic, industry and air conditioning, among other urban activities, the latest CSE analysis said.

Anumita Roychowdhury, the executive director of research and advocacy at CSE, talking about the neglect of increase in overall anomalous temperature in other regions of the country, says: “This is a very disturbing trend as policy preparedness to mitigate rising heat due to climate change is nearly absent in India,” said

“Without heat action plans, rising air temperature, radiating heat from land surfaces, concretisation, heat-trapping built structures, waste heat from industrial processes and air conditioners, and erosion of heat dousing forests, urban greens and water bodies will worsen public health risks. This requires urgent time-bound mitigation,” she said.

Avikal Somvanshi, senior programme manager at Urban Lab, CSE, said: “Currently, the attention is largely on the maximum daily heat levels and extreme conditions of heat waves. But it is equally important to pay attention to the overall rising temperature and humidity trends in different regions to understand the gravity of the problem.”

The Urban Lab of CSE has analysed the temperature trends in India from January 2015 to May 2022. Surface air temperature, land surface temperature, and relative humidity (heat index) have been studied at the national, regional, and local levels in an effort to understand the patterns in global warming.

The seasonal average air temperature for 2022 — pre-monsoon or summer (March, April and May as per IMD classification) — is 1.24°C warmer than the baseline trends that relate to 1971-2000 climatology.

Baselines are defined based on historical timelines and may vary for different metrics; the anomaly is generally computed from the 1951-80, 1971-2000, or 1981-2010 climatology baseline.

This is warmer than the 1.20°C anomaly noted in the 2016 pre-monsoon season but lower than the 1.45°C anomaly recorded in 2010.

Similarly, the land surface temperature anomaly has been extreme this pre-monsoon season, with a 1.46°C departure from the baseline (1971-2000). It must be noted that pre-monsoon seasonal trends in both land and air temperature are identical to the annual trends, but with more pronounced highs and lows.

Monsoon is hotter than the pre-monsoon period on average, while winter and post-monsoon seasons are warming up faster.

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The above article has been published from a wire agency with minimal modifications to the headline and text.

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