More Than Half a Billion in South Asia Exposed to Increasing Heatwaves, Study Suggests

© AP Photo / Rajesh Kumar SinghPeople rest on a cart on a hot summer day in Prayagraj, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Saturday, May 21, 2022.
People rest on a cart on a hot summer day in Prayagraj, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Saturday, May 21, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.06.2022
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Since March, India and Pakistan have been experiencing an unusual series of heat waves, in many places, temperatures have exceeded upto 45-degree Celsius, causing disruptions in the lives of millions of workers and vendors who work outdoors throughout the day.
Heatwaves condition in the South Asia region, particularly India and Pakistan, will continue to increase annually if these countries fail to take the step to prevent its greenhouse effect, as they are currently contributing, according to a study published recently.
Research published in the Science journal Earth Future by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, says more than half a billion people in this region are exposed to the heatwave, which can lead to food shortages, deaths, and refugee flows.
In March and April, India witnessed a rise in the average temperature by 2 to 4 degrees, from 31 to 35 degrees Celsius, in most parts of north-western and central India. As a result, the average maximum temperatures (between 35.9 and 37.78 degrees Celsius) in the month of March were the highest in 122 years, with the maximum temperature across the country being nearly 1.86 degrees Celsius above normal.
In India, as well as in Pakistan, heatwave incidents were more severe than normal this year. A heatwave, or extreme summer event, is generally declared when the maximum temperature is above 40 degrees Celsius or at least 4.5 degrees above normal.

“But if countries continue to contribute to the greenhouse effect as they are doing now, clearing and building on land that is helping to lower global temperatures, we believe that there could be as many as five more heatwaves per year, with more than half a billion people exposed to them, by the end of the century,” Deliang Chen, Study Author and Professor of Physical Meteorology at the University of Gothenburg, said in research papers.

The academic says that if measures are put in place to reach the 2015 Paris Climate Accords, then the effects of heatwaves could be mitigated.
“In the best-case scenario, we succeed in meeting the targets in the Paris Climate Accords, which added roughly two heatwaves per year, exposing about 200 million people to the heatwaves,” Chang added.
Scientists also suggest a link between heatwaves and population. Urban planning is also important - the study suggests that if new towns and villages are built in places that are less subject to heatwaves, the number of people affected will be reduced.
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