Climate change fuels heat wave in India and Pakistan, scientists say

The analysis also looked at the effects of prolonged heat. Arpita Mondal, a climatologist at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in Mumbai and an author of the study, said collecting data on the effects on wheat, a crop that is sensitive to extreme heat, was difficult, despite anecdotal reports of damage.

“But what has been quite surprising is that India has banned its wheat exports to the rest of the world,” he said. “That in itself is evidence enough that our agricultural productivity has been affected.”

The ban, coupled with the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on wheat exports from there, has international agencies concerned about the potential for global food shortages.

Another author, Roop Singh, a climate risk adviser at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, said that like other heat waves, this one shows that the effects tend to fall disproportionately on the poor.

She said there have been reports of widespread power outages, partly because the need for more cooling overloads the system and partly because of coal shortages in India. “This is particularly shocking for poorer people who might have access to a fan or a cooler, but may not be able to get it to work because they can’t afford a generator,” she said.

The study’s findings are consistent with many other analyzes of similar events over the past two decades, including an extraordinary heat wave last summer in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada. This field of research, called attribution analysis, has helped scientists and the public increasingly understand that the damaging effects of global warming are not a distant problem but are already happening.

Because emissions have raised the world’s baseline temperature, the link between heat waves and climate change is especially clear. Dr. Otto said that in studies of other extreme events like floods or droughts, climate change is often just one factor among several.

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