4 May 2023
Next year, India plans to launch a composite index of its own to measure the effect of heat on its population and produce impact-based heat wave alerts for specific locations. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has already launched an experimental heat index for various regions of the country, which calculates how hot it feels by taking into account air temperature and relative humidity.
Introducing the Heat Hazard Score
The IMD is now developing a new multi-parameter product called the “heat hazard score,” which will integrate other parameters such as wind and duration of exposure, making it an effective indicator of heat stress for people. The heat hazard score will be operational next summer season and will be used to issue impact-based heat wave alerts for specific locations.
Differences from the US Heat Index
One major difference between the heat index of the US and India’s heat hazard score is that the latter will consider other parameters that aggravate heat situations such as minimum temperature, wind, and exposure duration.
Predicted Heat Wave Hazards
According to IMD, there will be an increase in the maximum temperature and heatwave days in May for the eastern and central-eastern regions of India. IMD data demonstrates that there has been a 24% rise in the number of heatwaves from 2010 to 2019 when compared to 2000 to 2009. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also indicates that the major climate risk for south Asian countries will be the rising mortality rate due to heat waves.
Impact of Heat Waves on Human Health and Agriculture
Heat waves have a significant impact on human health, leading to cramps, exhaustion, stress, heat stroke, and even death. Individuals who are old, young, have heart and breathing problems, kidney diseases, and mental disorders are at a higher risk of being affected. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can significantly reduce crop yields and cause many crops to fail. Around 380 million people, which is approximately 75% of the workforce in India, experience heat-related stress. In India, about 75% of workers (around 380 million people) experience heat-related stress.