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21 cities in India saw heat streaks due to climate change

Bengaluru: As many as 15 cities in India experienced a minimum five days of extreme heat in 2023, says a new study by Climate Central, an independent group of scientists, which warned that the past 12 months between November 2022 and October 2023 have been the “hottest ever recorded” in 1,25,000 years.

The study analysed temperatures and heat waves of 920 major cities in 175 countries and found an average warming of more than 1.3 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era. “El Nino is just beginning to boost the temperatures, but based on historical patterns, most of the effect will be felt next year. Rapidly reducing carbon pollution every year is required to halt the warming trend,” it said.

The African continent had 44 of the 52 countries in the red with Rwanda classified as the worst effected by the rising heat. In Asia 32 of the 47 countries were affected. Four of 38 countries in Europe, 14 of 17 in north and central America, six of eight in Oceania and eight of 13 in South America were hit by the rising heat.

The study quantified the local influence of climate change on daily temperatures across the globe. Using a peer-reviewed scientific methodology, it graded the higher temperature as various levels of climate shift index (CSI), to estimate how much human-induced climate change shifted the odds of daily temperatures that people experience locally. If CSI 1 indicates a clear climate change signal, levels between 2 and 5 mean that climate change made those higher temperatures two to five times more likely.

It analysed 70 cities in India of which 12 cities, including Bengaluru, Visakhapatnam, Thane and Guwahati, had more than 100 days of higher than normal temperature classified as climate shift index level 5. A total of 21 cities across the country had 100 days of slightly above average temperature, classifed as CSI level 3.

Other than the population in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan 100 per cent of the population across 30 states/union territories were exposed to climate shift index 3 and above for five days.

Across the world, 90 per cent of the people (7.3 billion) experienced at least 10 days of temperatures very strongly affected by climate change and 73 per cent (5.8 billion) experienced more than a month’s worth of these temperatures. One in four people experienced a five-day heat wave that was strongly influenced by carbon pollution.

“This 12-month record is exactly what we expect from a global climate fueled by carbon pollution,” Dr Andrew Pershing, vice president for science at Climate Central said. “Records will continue to fall next year, especially as the growing El Niño begins to take hold, exposing billions to unusual heat. While climate impacts are most acute in developing countries near the equator, seeing climate-fueled streaks of extreme heat in the US, India, Japan, and Europe underscores that no one is safe from climate change.”

The heatwaves, wildfires and floods have direct and indirect impact on health, livelihood and economy, the study added.

(Published 09 November 2023, 18:34 IST)

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