Heatwave UPSC NOTE


What is heatwave?

  • A heatwave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, a common phenomenon in India during the months of May-June and in some rare cases even extends till July.

  • The Heatwave is considered when the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C for Plains and at least 30°C for Hilly regions.

What are the causes of heatwave?

  • The sharp rise in the number of heatwave days has resulted due to the increasing impact of climate change.

  • An extreme-heat event that was likely to happen only once in every 50 years without the influence of humans on climate is now likely to happen five times with human-induced climate change in the same period. 

  • The Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that extreme heat events will grow with increasing global warming and that every increment of warming matters.

  • Bad public infrastructure.

  • This increasing heat is a cause of suffering and death in extreme cases. 

  • It undermines systems such as agriculture and other climate-sensitive sectors that support the livelihoods and well-being of people.

  • It can affect the growth of plants, ecological systems, and even the carbon economy as the extreme variations in temperature between days and nights will affect the quality of the soil.

  • An alarming decline in diurnal temperature range (DTR) between 1991 and 2016 over the north-west parts of the Gangetic plain, and central India agro-climatic zones.

What are the impacts of heatwave?

  • It signifies an asymmetric increase in the min. temperature compared to the max. which in turn increases the risk of heat stress.

  • This also leads to drought, crop failure, and higher morbidity and mortality.

  • In the near future, heat waves could meet and surpass the human threshold to withstand them physiologically and socially, leading to large-scale suffering, death, and migration.

  • From an urban perspective, the combined effects of warming and urbanisation will cause a significant increase in the number of people at risk of extreme heat.

  • International Labour Organization report(2019), India is expected to lose 5.8% of working-hours in 2030 due to heat stress. 

  • The loss in agriculture and construction sectors will be 9.04%, which translates to 34 million full-time jobs.

  • Future death rates caused by extreme heat could be staggeringly high by the end of the century, which is comparable in magnitude to all cancers or infectious diseases.

Way Forward

  • States step up and share responsibility with other stakeholders to implement the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction through improved early warning systems, creation of public awareness, and heat action plans.

  • Innovative strategies to combat extreme heat

    • Emergency cooling centres (similar to the ones in Toronto and Paris); 

    • Survival guides that are strategically displayed to survive extreme heat or heat waves (like in Athens); 

    • White roofs (Los Angeles); 

    • Green rooftops (Rotterdam); self-shading tower blocks (Abu Dhabi); and 

    • Green corridors (Medellin).

  • Prepare district-level heat hotspot maps - It helps to design long-term measures to reduce deaths due to extreme heat.

  • Amenities that can help include access to drinking water, indoor ventilation, health care, regular work breaks, and protections against wage loss.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Heatwave UPSC NOTE
Heatwave UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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