Prolonged Heatwave Scorches India

Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2022), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

India is currently experiencing a lengthy heatwave, with temperatures in numerous cities across the country topping 42°C (108°F). This comes only weeks after India recorded its hottest March since the country’s meteorological department began its records over 120 years ago. The image above, produced using data from the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission, shows the land surface temperature across most of the nation.

According to the India Meteorological Department, maximum air temperatures reached 43-46°C (109-115°F) over most parts of Rajasthan, Vidarbha, Madhya Pradesh, and East Uttar Pradesh; in many parts over Gujarat, interior Odisha; and in some parts of Madhya Maharashtra on April 28, 2022. Weather forecasters warned that heatwave conditions are expected to continue through May 2.

Experts at the Indian Institute of Technology’s Water and Climate Lab stated that, in recent years, the number of Indian states hit by heatwaves has increased, as extreme temperatures become more frequent.

Owing to the absence of cloud cover on April 29 (10:30 local time), the Sentinel-3 spacecraft was able to obtain an accurate measurement of the land surface temperature of the ground, which exceeded 60°C (140°F) in several areas. The data shows that surface temperature in Jaipur and Ahmedabad reached 47°C (117°F), while the hottest temperatures recorded are southeast and southwest of Ahmedabad (visible in deep red) with maximum land surface temperatures of around 65°C (149°F).

The map was generated by using the mission’s Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer instrument. While weather forecasts use predicted air temperatures, this satellite instrument measures the real amount of energy radiating from Earth. Therefore, the map shows the actual temperature of the land’s surface pictured here, which is usually significantly hotter than air temperatures.

Sentinel-3 can monitor wildfires, map the way the land is used, provide indices of vegetation state, as well as measure the temperature, color, and height of the sea surface.

European Space AgencyWeather
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  • Clyde Spencer

    “India is currently experiencing a lengthy heatwave, with temperatures in numerous cities across the country topping 42°C (108°F).

    That sounds like a typical Summer day in Phoenix (AZ). But then India lies between 6-36 deg north of the Equator, while Phoenix is at 33 deg N latitude, or near the northern limit of India. Wikipedia says, “Indian climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, both of which drive the economically and culturally pivotal summer and winter monsoons. The Himalayas prevent cold Central Asian katabatic winds from blowing in, keeping the bulk of the Indian subcontinent warmer than most locations at similar latitudes.”

    The article further says, “This comes only weeks after India recorded its hottest March since the country’s meteorological department began its records over 120 years ago.” One of the links provided states it a little differently: “Already this year, India has recorded its warmest March since 1901.” This implies that the recent heat wave is not unprecedented.

    Wiki’ further says, “Temperatures in India have risen by 0.7 °C (1.3 °F) between 1901 and 2018.” While that is not too different from what is reported for all the Earth, I’d be surprised if that record isn’t contaminated by the Urban Heat Island effect considering the phenomenal growth of the cities during that time.

    The Sentinel image showing ground surface temperatures may be a little startling, but then it is not unusual for ground temperatures to be much higher than air temperatures, depending on the color of the soil/rocks, cloudiness, moisture present, vegetation cover, and windiness. That is why official air temperature-recording stations are specified to be 2m above the ground.

    • Clyde Spencer

      Thank you for the link to the almost 18-year old analysis of global UHI effects.

      For starters, I’d like to point out that one of the weak points of these types of analyses is that the urban region is typically defined by light at night. Then the defined-urban area temperatures are compared with the areas outside that. One problem is that if there is any wind, then the upwind portion of the city is cooled with rural air and the heat is transported downwind to a formerly cooler rural area. That is, the urban temperatures are lowered and the rural temperatures are increased, leading to less of a calculated contrast. For countries that have high densities of cities, the ratio of rural to urban area has declined over the years, leading to a high proportion of urban-warmed rural areas. The situation is more complex than your recommended article would imply.

      Also, I was speculating specifically about India because of its recent phenomenal growth in population and subsequent urbanization, which sets it apart from many, if not most, areas in the world.

  • Ashok T Jaisinghani

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    🔥It is absolutely WRONG to believe that a mere 1°C to 2°C increase in average global temperatures due to burning coal, oil, gas, and the increased emission of CO2 and Methane, can cause severe Heat Waves and massive Wild Fires. How can 1°C or 2°C increase in global temperatures due to burning fossil fuels make temperatures soar up to about 45°C to 50°C in many regions? The CRAZY Western Scientists DON’T know there are Powerful Natural and Cosmic FORCES that can cause massive Heat Waves, Wild Fires, Melting of Glaciers, Rising Sea Levels and other DISASTERS❗It can be PROVED that human activities are NOT responsible for such extreme events‼️
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    🔥No SCIENTIST or Leader should PRETEND to be like GOD who can perform MIRACLES by controlling the POWERFUL FORCES of Nature and commanding them to carry out his or her orders❗
        💥💥Very Hot Molten CORE of Earth is a Mini SUN💥💥
    🔥The Earth’s Crust and Oceans get upto 90% of their HEAT from the Burning CORE❗Only about 10% of the HEAT comes from the SUN‼️
    🔵The Temperature of EMPTY SPACE is -270°C.
    💥The Heat of Earth’s CORE takes it to about 10°C at the Equator🌐.
    💥The SUN raises the temperature further by only about 25°C, which is less than 10% of the total increase in temperature as shown below:
             270°C + 10°C + 25°C = 305°C.
    🔥The EXCESSIVE Production of HEAT in the Earth’s INTERIOR causes Global Warming, Wild Fires, Melting Glaciers, Rising Sea Levels, Cyclones, Rains and Floods, Ocean Streams, etc.