With India having recorded the hottest March in 121 years, Science Minister, Jitendra Singh said in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that “global warming” was to blame.
“One of the reasons for the rise in temperatures and increase in heatwaves is global warming, associated with the increase in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. The global average temperature has risen by around 1°C since pre-industrial times. This magnitude and rate of warming cannot be explained by natural variations alone and must necessarily take into account changes due to human activities. Emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), aerosols and changes in land use and land cover during the industrial period have substantially altered the atmospheric composition, and consequently the planetary energy balance, and are thus primarily responsible for the present day climate change,” he said in a written response to a question by Sougata Ray.
An all-time high
At an average 33.1 degrees, the median maximum temperature of March was at an all-time high of about 1.8 degrees above normal when compared to the reference period of 1981-2010.
Temperatures over 4-6°C the usual historical maximum were being experienced over many parts of the country and heatwave conditions also prevailed from March third week onwards, he noted.
Meteorologists have said the immediate reasons for high temperatures were due the absence of rainfall and continuous dry and hot westerly winds blowing from Balochistan, central Pakistan and the Thar Desert over northwest and central India. The western disturbances that bring rain to India from West Asia, were also lacklustre. These conditions are expected to persist for most of April, particularly over northwest and central India.
The annual mean land surface air temperature averaged over India in 2021 was 0.44 degree Celsius above the long period average (LPA) computed from 1981-2010. Year 2021 was the fifth warmest year since nationwide records commenced in 1901.
Heat action plan
Since 2013, the India Meteorological Department (IMD), in collaboration with local health departments, had started issuing heat action plan in many parts of the country to forewarn about heatwaves as well as advising action to be taken during such occasions.
The National Disaster Management Agency and the IMD were working with 23 States prone to high temperatures leading to heatwave conditions to develop heat action plans, the Minister stated.