New Delhi: As extreme weather events remain on the rise due to climate change, a report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) highlighted that simmering heat waves which hit countries across the globe were the deadliest weather hazard during 2015-2019.
The key findings were released as part of the major ‘United in Science’ report prepared by leading climate change scientists across the world, to be presented before the UN Climate Action Summit on Monday, where the UN will o call upon countries to enhance their emission reduction targets to combat global warming.
According to the report, almost every study of a significant heat wave since 2015 has found the hallmark of climate change.
India too has been witnessed blazing heatwaves which have intensified over the years. Over 3,176 lives were lost due to heatwaves in India from 2015 to 2018, according to the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
The 2015 El Nino year saw as many as 2081 deaths due to heatwaves, followed by 700 in 2016 and 375 in 2017. The number fell to 20 in 2018, but grew again this year, when India witnessed one of the most intense and longest heatwaves, as northern regions experienced temperatures surpassing 45°C for most of June.
While heatwaves were the deadliest in terms of human impact, the largest economic losses were associated with tropical cyclones, as per WMO, which is United Nations’ specialized agency and its authoritative voice on weather.
In the Indian Ocean, in March and April 2019, unprecedented and devastating back-to-back tropical cyclones hit Mozambique, while India was ravaged by the longest lasting cyclone over Bay of Bengal, Cyclone Fani, which left a trail of destruction in Odisha and adjoining regions in its wake.
Since more than 90% of the excess heat caused by climate change is stored in the oceans, 2018 also had the largest ocean heat content values on record measured over the upper 700 meters.
Storms and floods were other dominant disasters, impacting human lives, agriculture and infrastructure. Intense rainfall events concentrated on lesser number of days caused massive damage across countries. In India, Kerala which is yet to recover from the damaging floods of 2018 faced another intense rainfall event this monsoon.
According to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, during 2015-2017, 62 of the 77 events reported show a significant anthropogenic influence on the event’s occurrence. An increasing number of studies are also finding a human influence on the risk of extreme rainfall events, it stated.
“The challenges are immense. Besides mitigation of climate change, there is a growing need to adapt. According to the recent Global Adaptation Commission report the most powerful way to adapt is to invest in early warning services, and pay special attention to impact-based forecasts," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, also co-chair of the Science Advisory Group of the UN Climate Summit.