Stifling heat has oppressed large swaths of India since early spring with far-below-average rainfall, with even higher temperatures expected this week. The intense heatwave is particularly dangerous because of the lack of air conditioning in the country, and the high overnight temperatures that rob the body of a chance to cool down, increasing heat stress. Delhi usually gets 1.14″ of rain in March and April; it has received just 0.01″ of rain since the beginning of March, a cycle which can become self-reinforcing.
Climate change, caused mainly by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, has increased the intensity, duration and frequency of extreme heat and heat waves. March’s high temperatures were the highest in over a century, and multiple cities hit 109°F (42.8°C) or higher on Monday. Forecasts indicate temperatures could hit 120°F (49°C) later this week with the worst heat in the western and northern parts of the country near the borders of Pakistan and Nepal. (Washington Post $, The Weather Channel, Indian Express, The Independent; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves, Drought)