Record-breaking heatwaves that hit parts of South and Southeast Asia in April were “30 times more likely” because of human-induced climate change, according to an international team of scientists.
The region witnessed temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius last month. Bangladesh was at its hottest in 50 years, Thailand registered a record 45 degrees, and Laos exceeded 42 degrees, as reported by Reuters. These high temperatures caused widespread infrastructural damage, power shortages, and a spike in heat stroke cases.
A group of scientists with the World Weather Attribution Group studied heat and humidity levels in India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Laos. They concluded they were at least 2 degrees hotter due to underlying climate change.
Humid heatwaves that used to occur once a century are now expected to happen every five years. The scientists said the heat in Thailand and Laos would have been impossible without climate change.
'Heatwaves Not Natural'
During a media briefing on Wednesday, Chaya Vaddhanaphuti, a team member from Chiang Mai University in Thailand, said the heatwaves were not natural. “Unless we take drastic measures to reduce carbon emissions, heatwave events like this will continue to become more common,” he added.
According to the study, in some parts of the region, the estimated heat index, which factors in humidity, was close to 54 degrees, which is considered “extremely dangerous.” This level poses considerable health risks throughout the continent.
While some parts of Asia have implemented “heat action plans” to provide emergency healthcare and water or closed schools, others are unprepared and have limited access to the resources required to cope with high temperatures.
It remains unclear how many fatalities were caused by the April heatwaves. However, high temperatures in India have resulted in at least 24,000 deaths since 1992, with 90% of the country’s total area situated in “danger zones.”
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