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Climate crisis made crippling April heatwave in South Asia 45 times more likely: Scientists

The team of scientists, called the World Weather Attribution (WWA) group, emphasized that heatwaves intensified by climate change are making life much tougher for people living in poverty across Asia.

clkimateNEW DELHI: Annu Mishra kept her modest food stall shut as temperatures in Odisha’s Bhubaneswar remained above 40 degrees Celsius for 17 consecutive days in April.

This streak was the longest since 1969, severely impacting health and livelihoods.

“The crippling heat made it extremely difficult to stand near the gas stove,” said 51-year-old Mishra, noting that the only time her food stall remained shut for such a long duration was during Cyclone Fani in 2019.

Similar heatwaves could occur once every 30 years and they have already become about 45 times more likely due to climate change, leading climate scientists said on Wednesday, citing historical weather data.

The team of scientists, called the World Weather Attribution (WWA) group, emphasized that heatwaves intensified by climate change are making life much tougher for people living in poverty across Asia.

Amid a prevailing but weakening El Nino and the increasing concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, millions of people in South Asia endured brutal heat in April.

Record-smashing maximum temperatures were logged in parts of India, prompting health warnings from government agencies and some states to suspend in-person classes in schools.

The oppressive heat also shattered temperature records in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar.

In West Asia, including Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, April heatwaves with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius have become more frequent due to climate change.

As global average temperatures have risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius compared to the cooler pre-industrial climate, scientists predict that West Asia is expected to experience similar heatwaves about once every 10 years.

If warming reaches 2 degrees Celsius, similar heatwaves will occur about once every five years.

Heatwaves can be deadly, with the elderly and children particularly at risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

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