Baking a billion people (or two)

April 26-28, 2022: See this snip from the New Scientist:

Severe Indian heatwave will bake a billion people and damage crops

An unusual heatwave forecast across much of India will see temperatures in the mid-to-high 40s°C

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ENVIRONMENT 26 April 2022

By Adam Vaughan

Wheat farmer
Farmers harvest wheat crop on the outskirts of Gurugram, India, on 14 AprilVipin Kumar/Hindustan Times/Shutterstock

More than a billion people are facing a severe heatwave across India this week, which will have wide-ranging consequences for the health of the most vulnerable and will damage wheat harvests.

Temperatures in the mid-to-high 40s°C are forecast for much of the country in the coming days, with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) issuing heatwave warnings for several states.

The UK Met Office says that temperatures are currently above average in India and that this will probably continue into the coming week. India is entering a season ahead of the monsoon’s arrival when heatwaves are common, the Met Office says, but this year it follows a period of unusually early sweltering conditions in India.

March was record-breakingly hot, with a national average maximum temperature of 33.10°C, beating the 33.09°C set in March 2010. R K Jenamani, head of the national weather forecasting centre at the IMD, says that the recent heatwaves have been notable because they occurred during a La Niña weather pattern – which usually has a cooling effect globally – while the 2010 records took place during an El Niño, which has a warming effect.

“It’s really bad,” says Arpita Mondal at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai, where she says high humidity means that temperatures around 32°C feel more like 38°C. “It’s very tiring and stressful,” she adds. What is notable is how early the heatwaves have come, she says. They are also unusually widespread, baking almost the entire country rather than just India’s two usual heat hotspots, the central north-western region, including Rajasthan, and the south-east, including Andhra Pradesh.

Continues …click below

Read more:

BBC on Thursday:

Millions of Indians are experiencing a brutal heatwave that is throwing lives and livelihoods out of gear – and there is no relief in sight.

“Temperatures are rising rapidly in the country, and rising much earlier than usual,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told state chief ministers on Wednesday.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast a gradual rise in maximum temperatures by 2-4C over most parts of north-western and central India this week, with “no large change thereafter”.

While heatwaves are common in India, especially in May and June, summer began early this year with high temperatures from March itself – average maximum temperatures in the month were the highest in 122 years. Heatwaves also began setting in during the month.

Reuters, April 26:

The U.N. World Food Programme said on Tuesday that 13 million people across the Horn of Africa face severe hunger, calling for immediate assistance to avoid a repeat of a famine a decade ago that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Three failed rainy seasons have created the driest conditions since the 1980s, with forecasts of below-average rainfall set to increase suffering in the coming months.

“Harvests are ruined, livestock are dying, and hunger is growing as recurrent droughts affect the Horn of Africa,” said Michael Dunford, Regional Director in the WFP Regional Bureau for Eastern Africa.

The conditions have decimated livestock, forcing thousands in a region where many are farmers into displacement camps.

We never experienced this before, we only see dust storms now. We are afraid that they will cover us all and become our graveyard,” said Mohamed Adem from the Somali region of Ethiopia in a WFP video.

WFP warns millions facing hunger as driest weather in decades ravages Horn of Africa
WFP warns millions facing hunger as driest weather in decades ravages Horn of Africa
WFP warns millions facing hunger as driest weather in decades ravages Horn of Africa

(Pictures from Reuters)

World Food Programme (WFP) staff engages with the local community and beneficiaries of their programme in Wajir, northeastern Kenya, December 2, 2021. World Food Programme/Handout via REUTERS

Aerial footage taken nearby showed vast dusty scrubland strewn with cattle carcasses. In Kebele village, people tied ropes beneath the torso of a thin cow to raise it to its feet.

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