Apr 29, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Heat wave escalates in India and Pakistan

Satellite image showing land surface temperatures on April 28 across India and Pakistan
Satellite image showing land surface temperatures on April 28 across India and Pakistan. (Platform Adam via Antonio Vecoli)

An intense heat wave is bringing temperatures of 104°F (40°C) or greater to nearly 1 billion people in India and Pakistan, with records threatened each day through the weekend.

Why it matters: Extreme heat can be deadly. An increase in the intensity, duration and occurrence of extreme heat events has been tied to climate change, including trends in India specifically.

By the numbers: On Thursday, temperatures reached 117.5°F (47.5°C) in Nawabshah, Pakistan — the hottest temperature on record in the Northern Hemisphere so far this year.

  • Delhi saw a high of 110.3°F (43.5°C) Thursday.
  • Forecasts for Jacobabad, Pakistan, call for temperatures to reach or eclipse 120°F (48.9°C) during the next three days.

What's next: The Indian Meteorological Service has issued heat alerts through the weekend for a large portion of the country, while Pakistan's weather agency is warning of flooding from rapidly melting glaciers in high elevations.

Context: Friederike Otto, who specializes in the causes of extreme weather events, said via Twitter: "A heatwave that would have been rare without climate change" is "much more common now & will become more & more so as long as we burn fossil fuels."

  • A Nature study published in February found that human-caused warming has doubled the probability of heat waves in parts of India during the 20th century, and will increase the risk of such events tenfold during the next several decades.
Go deeper