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Climate change has increased the likelihood of a heat wave in India 100 times

Climate change has increased the likelihood of a heat wave in India 100 times

A farmer pours water on himself while working on a wheat farm in the Ludhiana district of Punjab, India, on Sunday, May 1, 2022.

T. Narayan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A scorching heat wave in northwest India and Pakistan is becoming more than 100 times more likely due to human-caused climate change, According to a new study It was published on Wednesday by the National Weather Service in the United Kingdom.

Extreme temperatures, which began in March, have already set records in the region and have forced millions of people to change the way they work and live. India had the hottest March and the third hottest April in 122 years of records, and Pakistan had the hottest April ever.

The UK Met Office The study estimated how climate change increased the chances of such heat events, using the region’s record heat event in April and May of 2010 as a benchmark.

Without accounting for climate change, the probability that a thermal event like the one that occurred in 2010 will be exceeded only once every 312 years, according to the study. But given the current effects of climate change, these record temperatures are now expected every 3.1 years. The study warned that by the end of the century, the chances could increase to every 1.15 years.

“Heat waves have long been a feature of the region’s pre-monsoon climate during April and May,” said Nikos Christidis, the study’s lead author. “However, our study shows that climate change is the driver of the heat intensity of these episodes.”

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Air coolers for sale in New Delhi, India, on Saturday, April 30, 2022. India is experiencing a heat wave, with the country’s average temperature reaching nearly 92°F (33°C) in March, the highest recorded in a month. Since authorities began collecting data in 1901.

Anindeto Mukherjee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

In India, the average maximum temperature in April was 35.30°C (95.5°F), or behind 35.42°C (95.8°F) in 2010 and 35.32°C (95.6°F) in 2016, According to the Indian government.

The average maximum temperature in March was 33.10 °C (91.6 °F), the highest average maximum temperature in the past 122 years and slightly higher than the previous record set in March 2010.

Temperatures are also well above average this month. In recent days, temperatures in parts of India reached 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), while parts of Pakistan reached 51 degrees Celsius (123.8 degrees Fahrenheit) last Sunday.

The heat wave has since abated, but maximum temperatures are likely to reach 50 degrees Celsius again in some areas, Paul Hutcheon of the Bureau of Meteorology’s global guidance unit said.

Scientists will have to wait until the end of the month, when all temperature records for April and May will be collected, to see if this year’s heat wave will exceed levels seen in 2010.