India Swelters Under Heatwave, With Temperatures Set to Hit 47 Degrees

India Swelters Under Heatwave, With Temperatures Set to Hit 47 Degrees
Ground temperatures in India reached 131 degrees on April 12, 2022. (Image: European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-3A)

People in India continue to sweat under a blistering heatwave, with temperatures forecasted to max out at 47 degrees Celsius over the coming days, the India Meteorological Department said in a press release today. Ground temperatures there recently hit 55 degrees, satellite data showed.

According to the World Health Organisation, India’s heatwave season begins in March and can last until June (or July in some cases), with upwards of five or six individual heatwave events. High heat in India began earlier this month, and data from the Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite showed ground temperatures reaching a whopping 55 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country on April 12.

In another release from earlier this month, the India Meteorological Department announced that March 2022 was the hottest March India has experienced in over a century, with a maximum temperature of 33 degrees. Quartz India reported last week that these temperatures are disrupting normal life.

“It’s become impossible to work after 10 o’clock in the morning,” Sunil Das, a rickshaw puller, told Quartz India. “I head back home after 10 and resume in the evening when the heat has subsided a bit,” Das said. “It has reduced my earnings but what alternative do I have?”

Heatwaves are often deadly, particularly for vulnerable people like the old, very young, or ill. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says that, while people typically acclimate to their local climate, freak heat events can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate its temperature, potentially resulting in exhaustion and heatstroke. A 2021 study found that urban heat is getting even more dangerous over time.

Heatwaves are likely to get worse and more frequent with climate change. Last year, ground temperatures in Greece and Turkey clocked in over 52 degrees Celsius, while the Pacific Northwest and even the Arctic Circle reached record highs.