Weather alert

A repeat of the 2015 Andhra-Telangana heat wave that killed 2,500 people is 10 times more likely now

A study has found that climate change has raised the probability of deadly heat waves.

The heat wave that killed around 2,500 people in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the last week of May 2015 is directly attributable to climate change. Global warming has increased the likelihood of such a heat wave in the region from being a once-in-100-years event to a once-in-10-years event, a 10-fold increase in probability. If the pollutants that blanket the sky above Hyderabad and much of the region were removed, such a heat wave may occur once every two years.

These are the three main conclusions of an analysis of the 2015 heat wave carried out by a group of researchers in India and abroad. Karsten Haustein of the University of Oxford, who is part of the group, said the researchers had found “very strong attribution, linking more extreme heat waves to human-induced climate change”. Their study has been submitted for publication in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Haustein was speaking at a roundtable. Held in New Delhi on February 28, the roundtable was part of a project called Raising Risk Awareness, being carried out by seven think tanks in India and abroad.

The findings have clear implications for planners in South Asia. For one, they have to be far more ready for extreme heat waves than they are now. On top of that, they have to be aware that if and when pollution from industrial activities and transport is cleaned up, it will lead to stronger heat waves, as it has done in North America and Europe.

The blanket of pollution that envelopes South Asia much of the time does have the effect of preventing some of the sun’s heat from reaching the earth’s surface. This does not mean air pollution is good – it kills seven million people a year worldwide and may have an adverse impact on rainfall. What it does mean that is that planners have to be ready for even higher temperatures.

Attribution science

One cutting edge of climate science now is to study individual events such as heat waves, floods or droughts, and attribute it or not attribute it to climate change. This has implications for policymakers – if scientists tell them that a heat wave is due to climate change and that its frequency is likely to increase, they have to prepare accordingly. It has implications for the insurance industry for the same reason. It also has implications for international climate negotiations, in the arena of loss and damage. Once there is scientific evidence linking a particular storm or flood or heat wave to climate change, developing countries can demand compensation from the developed countries that have caused most of the climate change since the start of the Industrial Age.

In this project, the scientists had studied two events in India – the very heavy rainfall in Chennai on December 1, 2015, and the Andhra-Telangana heat wave. Krishna Achuta Rao of the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, co-researcher in the Chennai study, said that his team could not find any reason to attribute the rainfall to climate change.

The heat wave, however, was clearly due to climate change, the scientists said after studying masses of weather data and running iterations of climate models.

Policy implications

Will these findings change anything on the ground? Not unless the scientists can get even more specific, and forecast the month when the heat wave will take place or the number of days it will go on, said Nagendra K Biyani of the disaster management department in the Andhra Pradesh government. “We plan for heat waves anyway,” he told the roundtable. “A generic mention of the role of climate change in a heat wave does not help in that planning. We need something specific.”

Heat waves in summer inevitably lead to water shortages in many places. Image credit: Rajesh Pamnani
Heat waves in summer inevitably lead to water shortages in many places. Image credit: Rajesh Pamnani

Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan reduced the number of deaths during a 47-degree Celsius heat wave from 700 in 2010 to 20 in 2015. Biyani said a similar plan has been developed for Vijayawada, but the problem is that decision-making remains fragmented between various ministries and branches of the municipal corporation.

Akhilesh Gupta, climate change head in the Department of Science and Technology, pointed to the same problem. He said Indian scientists could now provide crucial information on storms, heat waves, floods or droughts, but that was neither being communicated effectively to other ministries, nor to the people. “We can’t work in isolation between DST [Department of Science and Technology], MOES [Ministry of Earth Sciences, which is the parent organisation of the India Meteorological Department, IMD], MOEFCC [Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change]. The IMD state centres and the DST state climate change cells must work together.”

Heat index

While acknowledging that communication and coordination are crucial, scientists are going ahead with their work. Another study by Achuta Rao, with Michael Wehner, Dáithí Stone and Hari Krishnan in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Federico Castillo in University of California at Berkeley, pointed out that high humidity often worsens the effect of a heat wave.

The May 2015 heat wave in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana was followed by a heat wave in Karachi that killed at least 700 people, though the temperatures in Pakistan’s largest city were at least five to six degrees lower than in South-Central India. The key reason was a relative humidity of 35%-70% in Karachi, far higher than the 20% recorded at most weather stations in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

This is known, and weather experts in North America and Europe have developed what is called a heat index, a combination of temperature, relative humidity and other factors. However, it is not applicable in South Asia. Scientists are now working on developing a heat index that will be useful to policymakers.

Attribution science is in its infancy, but its utility to policymakers is already apparent, as long as the scientists come up with their results quickly after a heat wave or a storm or a similar event, and as long as these results are communicated without any delay to policymakers and people.

This article first appeared from The Third Pole.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Top picks, best deals and all that you need to know for the Amazon Great Indian Festival

We’ve done the hard work so you can get right to what you want amongst the 40,000+ offers across 4 days.

The Great Indian Festival (21st-24th September) by Amazon is back and it’s more tempting than ever. This edition will cater to everyone, with offers on a range of products from electronics, home appliances, apparel for men and women, personal care, toys, pet products, gourmet foods, gardening accessories and more. With such overwhelming choice of products and a dozen types of offers, it’s not the easiest to find the best deals in time to buy before your find gets sold out. You need a strategy to make sure you avail the best deals. Here’s your guide on how to make the most out of the Great Indian Festival:

Make use of the Amazon trio – Amazon Prime, Amazon Pay and Amazon app

Though the festival officially starts on 21st, Amazon Prime members will have early access starting at 12 noon on 20th September itself, enabling them to grab the best deals first. Sign up for an Amazon Prime account to not miss out on exclusive deals and products. Throughout the festival, Prime members will 30-minute early access to top deals before non-Prime members. At Rs 499/- a year, the Prime membership also brings unlimited Amazon Prime video streaming and quick delivery benefits.

Load your Amazon pay wallet; there’s assured 10% cashback (up to Rs 500). Amazon will also offer incremental cashbacks over and above bank cashbacks on select brands as a part of its Amazon Pay Offers. Shopping from the app would bring to you a whole world of benefits not available to non-app shoppers. App-only deals include flat Rs 1,250 off on hotels on shopping for more than Rs 500, and flat Rs 1,000 off on flights on a roundtrip booking of Rs 5,000 booking from Yatra. Ten lucky shoppers can also win one year of free travel worth Rs 1.5 lakhs.

Plan your shopping

The Great Indian Sale has a wide range of products, offers, flash sales and lightning deals. To make sure you don’t miss out on the best deals, or lose your mind, plan first. Make a list of things you really need or have been putting off buying. If you plan to buy electronics or appliances, do your research on the specs and shortlist the models or features you prefer. Even better, add them to your wishlist so you’re better able to track your preferred products.

Track the deals

There will be lightning deals and golden hour deals throughout the festival period. Keep track to avail the best of them. Golden-hour deals will be active on the Amazon app from 9.00pm-12.00am, while Prime users will have access to exclusive lightning deals. For example, Prime-only flash sales for Redmi 4 will start at 2.00pm and Redmi 4A at 6.00pm on 20th, while Nokia 6 will be available at Rs 1,000 off. There will be BOGO Offers (Buy One Get One free) and Bundle Offers (helping customers convert their TVs to Smart TVs at a fraction of the cost by using Fire TV Stick). Expect exclusive product launches from brands like Xiaomi (Mi Band 2 HRX 32 GB), HP (HP Sprocket Printer) and other launches from Samsung and Apple. The Half-Price Electronics Store (minimum 50% off) and stores offering minimum Rs 15,000 off will allow deal seekers to discover the top discounts.

Big discounts and top picks

The Great Indian Festival is especially a bonanza for those looking to buy electronics and home appliances. Consumers can enjoy a minimum of 25% off on washing machines, 20% off on refrigerators and 20% off on microwaves, besides deals on other appliances. Expect up to 40% off on TVs, along with No-Cost EMI and up to Rs 20,000 off on exchange.

Home Appliances

Our top picks for washing machines are Haier 5.8 Kg Fully Automatic Top Loading at 32% off, and Bosch Fully Automatic Front Loading 6 Kg and 7 Kg, both available at 27% discount. Morphy Richards 20 L Microwave Oven will be available at a discount of 38%.

Our favorite pick on refrigerators is the large-sized Samsung 545 L at 26% off so you can save Rs 22,710.

There are big savings to be made on UV water purifiers as well (up to 35% off), while several 5-star ACs from big brands will be available at greater than 30% discount. Our top pick is the Carrier 1.5 Ton 5-star split AC at 32% off.

Also those looking to upgrade their TV to a smart one can get Rs. 20,000 off by exchanging it for the Sony Bravia 108cm Android TV.

Personal Electronics

There’s good news for Apple fans. The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 will be available at Rs 55,990, while the iPad will be available at 20% off. Laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP will be available in the discount range of 20% to 26%. Top deals are Lenovo Tab3 and Yoga Tab at 41% to 38% off. Apple fans wishing to upgrade to the latest in wearable technology can enjoy Rs 8,000 off on the Apple Watch series 2 smartwatch.

If you’re looking for mobile phones, our top deal pick is the LG V20 at Rs 24,999, more than Rs 5000 off from its pre-sale price.

Power banks always come in handy. Check out the Lenovo 13000 mAh power bank at 30% off.

Home printers are a good investment for frequent flyers and those with kids at home. The discounted prices of home printers at the festival means you will never worry about boarding passes and ID documents again. The HP Deskjet basic printer will be available for Rs 1,579 at 40% off and multi-function (printer/ scanner/ Wi-Fi enabled) printers from HP Deskjet and Canon will also available at 33% off.

The sale is a great time to buy Amazon’s native products. Kindle E-readers and Fire TV Stick will be on sale with offers worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively.

The Amazon Fire Stick
The Amazon Fire Stick

For those of you who have a bottomless collection of movies, music and photos, there is up to 60% off on hard drives and other storage devices. Our top picks are Rs 15,000 and Rs 12,000 off on Seagate Slim 5TB and 4TB hard drives respectively, available from 8.00am to 4.00pm on 21st September.

The sale will see great discounts of up to 60% off on headphones and speakers from the top brands. The 40% off on Bose QC 25 Headphones is our favourite. Top deals are on Logitech speakers with Logitech Z506 Surround Sound 5.1 multimedia Speakers at 60% off and the super compact JBL Go Portable Speaker at 56% off!

Other noteworthy deals

Cameras (up to 55% off) and camera accessories such as tripods, flash lights etc. are available at a good discount. Home surveillance cameras too will be cheaper. These include bullet cameras, dome cameras, simulated cameras, spy cameras and trail and game cameras.

For home medical supplies and equipment, keep an eye on the grooming and personal care section. Weighing scales, blood pressure monitors, glucometers, body fat monitors etc. will be available at a cheaper price.

The sale is also a good time to invest in home and kitchen supplies. Mixer-grinders and juicers could see lightning deals. Don’t ignore essentials like floor mops with wheels, rotating mop replacements, utensils, crockery etc. Tupperware sets, for example, will be more affordable. There are attractive discounts on bags, especially laptop bags, backpacks, diaper bags and luggage carriers.

Interesting finds

While Amazon is extremely convenient for need-based shopping and daily essentials, it is also full of hidden treasures. During the festival, you can find deals on telescopes, polaroid cameras, smoothie makers, gym equipment, gaming consoles and more. So you’ll be able to allow yourself some indulgences!

Small shopping

If you have children, the festival is good time to stock up on gifts for Diwali, Christmas, return gifts etc. On offer are gaming gadgets such as Xbox, dough sets, Touching Tom Cat, Barbies, classic board games such as Life and more. There are also some products that you don’t really need, but kind of do too, such as smartphone and tablet holders, magnetic car mounts for smartphones and mobile charging station wall stands. If you’re looking for enhanced functionality in daily life, do take a look at the Amazon Basics page. On it you’ll find USB cables, kitchen shears, HDMI cables, notebooks, travel cases and other useful things you don’t realise you need.

Check-out process and payment options

Amazon is also offering an entire ecosystem to make shopping more convenient and hassle-free. For the festival duration, Amazon is offering No-Cost EMIs (zero interest EMIs) on consumer durables, appliances and smartphones, plus exchange schemes and easy installation services in 65 cities. HDFC card holders can avail additional 10% cashback on HDFC credit and debit cards. Customers will also get to “Buy Now and Pay in 2018” with HDFC Credit Cards, as the bank offers a 3 Month EMI Holiday during the days of the sale. Use Amazon Pay balance for fast and easy checkouts, quicker refunds and a secured shopping experience.

Sales are fun and with The Great Indian Festival offering big deals on big brands, it definitely calls for at least window shopping. There’s so much more than the above categories, like minimum 50% off on American Tourister luggage! To start the treasure hunt, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon.in and not by the Scroll editorial team.