India battles longest heatwave; Experts predict severe condition ahead

Although the mercury is expected to drop as the annual monsoon rains advance northward this month, Mohapatra cautioned that this relief will be temporary.

Author
Top Indian News Desk
Follow us:
Courtesy: ANI

India is currently experiencing its longest heatwave on record, according to the country's top weather expert. Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, the head of India's Meteorological Department (IMD), issued a stark warning that the country will face increasingly severe temperatures in the future. Since mid-May, parts of northern India have been enduring soaring temperatures, with some areas experiencing heat over 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). 

"This has been the longest spell because it has been experienced for about 24 days in different parts of the country," Mohapatra said in an interview with the Indian Express daily.

Although the mercury is expected to drop as the annual monsoon rains advance northward this month, Mohapatra cautioned that this relief will be temporary. He warned that without notable precautionary measures, future heatwaves will become more frequent, longer-lasting, and more intense.

Impact of global warming

India, the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2070, a target that lags two decades behind many industrialized nations. Currently, India heavily relies on coal for its power generation needs. "Human activities, increasing population, industrialization, and transport mechanisms are leading to increased concentrations of harmful gases like carbon monoxide, methane, and chlorocarbons," Mohapatra explained. "We are endangering not only ourselves but also our future generations."

Scientific studies confirm that climate change is causing heatwaves to become more prolonged, frequent, and intense. During the latest heatwave, New Delhi saw temperatures reach 49.2C (120.5F), matching the capital's previous record high set in 2022. This extreme heat led to a surge in electricity demand, with the grid reaching a record peak power demand of 8,302 megawatts.

Sensor error in Delhi

On May 29, an automatic weather station in the Delhi suburb of Mungeshpur reported a high of 52.9C (127.2F). However, this extreme reading was later attributed to a faulty sensor. In response, the IMD formed an expert committee to investigate. "We observed readings for the next two days and found there were problems with the sensor," Mohapatra said, noting that such equipment is inspected every six months but can be disturbed by animals in between checks.