Home / News / India /  UN refuses to name heatwaves - here's why

As Europe experiences sweltering temperatures this week, the United Nations (UN) has stated that it has no plans to begin designating heatwaves in the same way as Atlantic storms. Storms are given names throughout the annual Atlantic hurricane season to make it simpler to recognise them in warning bulletins and to promote clear communication.

An equivalent system for heatwaves, according to the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO), is not in the works.

"Tropical cyclones are big systems, they affect multiple countries; heatwaves are more localised," WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis told reporters.

"There are moves by some cities to name heatwaves, but at the moment there's definitely not a coordinated move to name heatwaves. We don't have a naming system and it's not envisaged in the near future either."

Seville in southern Spain, where temperatures last month reached 40 degrees Celsius, will be the first place in the world to officially define and categorise heatwaves. The June announcement of a pilot programme aims to increase public awareness and promptly initiate emergency actions in the case of a heatwave alert. The initials of the first five will be Zoe, Yago, Xenia, Wenceslao, and Vega.

The WMO oversees hurricane naming. They are repurposed every six years, but if a very severe hurricane occurs, the name is retired and changed. Additionally, the Pacific and Indian Oceans employ naming conventions.

The extreme heat that engulfed huge portions of India and Pakistan was rendered 30 times more likely as a result of climate change, the WMO said recently.

In one of the most densely-populated regions on the planet, the protracted, widespread heat and below-average rainfall affected hundreds of millions of people. In accordance with the WMO initiative to increase early warnings and early action and to adopt heat-health action plans, the national meteorological and hydrological departments in both nations have been working closely with health and disaster management organisations to save lives.

According to the India Meteorological Department, many observing stations recorded temperatures ranging from 45 °C (113 °F) to 50 °C (122 °F) on May 15. This came after a heatwave that lasted from the end of April to the beginning of May and saw highs of 43 to 46 °C.

Pakistan had 50°C temperatures as well. According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, daytime temperatures were between 5°C and 8°C above average across a major portion of the nation. Water supply, agriculture, and human and animal health were all impacted by the hot, dry weather. The extraordinary temperatures exacerbated the melting of snow and ice in the high regions of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and resulted in at least one glacial lake outburst flood.

(With agency inputs)

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