What have we done?
The European Union’s Copernicus satellite has detected mindblowing land temperatures over the Indian Subcontinent.
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.
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.
Wired reports on power outages. India’s coal supply is not enough to meet the surge in electricity demand from air-conditioning. Authorities are frantically seeking more coal imports. Temperatures are expected only to increase in May and June.
Power cuts are expected to worsen in the coming days as the heatwaves and a pickup in economic activity are seen increasing electricity demand at the fastest pace in nearly four decades.
The unprecedented heat puts millions of blue-collar workers, including construction and farm labourers and those working on factory shop floors, at great risk. Sunstrokes have claimed thousands of Indian lives over the years.
“Most of India‘s population is rural, without access to air conditioning and cooling stations,” said Arpita Mondal, hydroclimatologist at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai.
Daily wage earners and those in urban slums are among the most vulnerable to heat, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, since cities tend to be warmer than rural areas due to the heat trapping effect of buildings and other factors.
In addition to power cuts for factories, Rajasthan imposed four-hour power cuts for rural regions, exposing thousands of families in the desert state to extreme temperatures.
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