In India, while we do not name heatwaves, we have names for cyclones.
Like hurricanes and cyclones, heat waves shall soon be named — to highlight their significance, alert people and push public officials to take necessary steps. Seville, Spain will become the first city to start naming severe heat waves.
Five other cities — Los Angeles; Miami; Milwaukee; Kansas City, Missouri; and Athens — have also designed a similar initiative, using weather data and public health criteria to categorise heat waves. They will use a three-category system, which best suits the particular climate of each city.
Each participating city “has a different set of formulas” that will determine what the categories look like, based in part on their urban structure,” Larry Kalkstein, Arsht-Rock’s chief heat science adviser said. Arsht-Rock and its two-year-old Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance are pushing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the World Meteorological Organization to make naming and ranking of heat waves a norm.
Meanwhile, California could soon become the first US state to set up a system for early warning and “ranking” of extreme heat events.
Why do we name cyclones ?
In 2000, a group of nations called WMO/ESCAP (World Meteorological Organisation/United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), which comprised Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand, decided to start naming cyclones in the region. After each country sent in suggestions, the WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC) finalised the list.
With a name, it is easy to identify individual cyclones, create awareness about its development, rapidly disseminate warnings to increase community preparedness and remove confusion where there are multiple cyclonic systems over a region.
Heatwaves, like cyclones, need more attention to help alleviate their disastrous effects as rising global temperatures worsen the situation this year.
Heatwaves in India
This year, March and April saw early and unforeseen heat across India. March was the warmest and April was the fourth-warmest in 122 years. Though heatwave over large parts of north and central India is an annual phenomenon in May, the maximum temperatures in areas of Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir have been unusually high. Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana are some of the states that witnessed heatwave conditions.
Western disturbances lacked sufficient moisture this year, keeping the temperature high. In the absence of cloud cover, temperatures can soar with the solar radiation, while dry westerly winds do not bring any moisture.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report last year also stated that extremes of hot weather and heatwaves have become more frequent and more intense since the 1950s. The report identified “human-induced climate change” as the “main driver” of these changes.
Source: The Indian Express