Extent of Ocean Surface Above 86 Degrees (F) Hits New Record During May of 2016

Not only is a human-forced warming of the globe expected to increase average surface ocean and land temperatures, it is also expected to generate higher peak readings over larger and larger regions. Such was the case during May of 2016 as a massive expanse of the world ocean saw temperatures rocket to above 30 degrees Celsius (or 86 degrees Fahrenheit).

Area of World Ocean Above 30 C

(A record hot global ocean has brewed up yet one more new extreme in the form of a 32.7 million square kilometer expanse of steaming hot waters above 86 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 degrees Celsius. Image source: Brian Brettschneider.)

According to climatologist Brian Brettschneider, 32.7 million square kilometers of the world ocean saw temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius during May of 2016. A new record for the largest sea surface area above a high temperature threshold that typically sets off a range of harmful ocean conditions — including coral bleaching, lower levels of seawater oxygen, and increased rates of algae growth — even as it dumps copious volumes of high latent heat water vapor into the Earth’s atmosphere.

The new record belittled 2015’s May 30 C + extent of about 28.5 million square kilometers — beating it by over 4 million square kilometers. For reference, the new 32.7 million square kilometer record extent of such steamy ocean waters is about equal in area to the size of Africa and Greenland combined.

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(A huge expanse of Equatorial waters saw sea surface temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius or 86 degrees Fahrenheit during May. A record expanse of hot water that is also now in the process of dumping a record amount of high latent heat moisture into the Earth’s atmosphere. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

High water temperatures in the range of 30 C greatly increase the latent heat energy of the Earth system. Such warm waters pump out an extraordinary volume of high heat content water vapor into the atmosphere. And May’s record 30 C extent has almost certainly contributed to numerous extreme rainfall events occurring around the globe during late May and extending into early June.

Rising Sea and Land Surface Temperatures as Global Health Risk

Record extents of 30+ C waters also increase the potential for combinations of high heat and humidity over the Earth’s surface that result in a rising risk of human heat injuries or even death. In India this year nearly 400 people are thought to have died directly due to excessive heat. Thousands more are reported injured in what is now a record heatwave and drought affecting the highly populated country.

Field workers are also suffering from increasing instances of chronic kidney failure — a condition that health professionals are starting to link to the extreme heat, humidity and other conditions related to climate change. Though highest instances of kidney disease show up among those working outside during the heat of the day, 1 in 13 people in India now suffer from it. Lack of available water due to drought, rising temperatures due to climate change, a lack of air conditioning in the increasingly sweltering country, and a dearth of breaks in which outdoor workers can retreat to the shade are all identified as  factors that have led to such amazingly high rates of kidney illness and kidney failure in India.

In the worst instances of the most dangerous periods of high heat, wet bulb readings — which are meant to simulate the lowest temperature evaporation can cool the human skin to — have approached 35 C. A combination of temperature and humidity that renders the human body unable to transport heat away from the skin and a reading that greatly increases the risk of heat injury and death. And since maximum ocean surface temperatures are a good proxy for peak potential wet bulb readings, a record extent of 30+ C sea surface temperatures is a context of rising risk for the new kinds of heatwave mass casualties associated with human-caused climate change.

Links:

Brian Brettschneider

Earth Nullschool

Thousands Injured by High Temperatures in India

The Mysterious Disease That’s Killing India’s Farmers

Climate Change Linked to Increased Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease

Hat Tip to DT Lange

Hat Tip to Cate

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

 

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Wet Bulb Near 35 C — Heatwave Mass Casualties Strike India Amidst Never-Before-Seen High Temperatures

Never-before-seen high temperatures and high humidity are resulting in thousands of heat injuries and hundreds of heat deaths across India. In some places, wet bulb readings appear to be approaching 35 C — a level of latent heat never endured by humans before fossil fuel burning forced global temperatures to rapidly warm. A reading widely-recognized as the limit of human physical endurance and one whose more frequent excession would commit the human race to enduring an increasing number of episodes of killing heat. A boundary that scientists like Dr. James Hansen warned would be exceeded if a human-forced warming of the world was not halted.

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And it is in this newly dangerous climate context that temperatures near 125 degrees Fahrenheit settled in over India’s border region with Pakistan yesterday. A blistering wave of crippling heat hitting never-before-seen readings over that highly-populated nation. In Phalodi, India, the mercury rocketed to 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit (51 degrees Celsius). This reading exceeded India’s previous all-time record high for any location which stood at 123.1 degrees Fahrenheit (50.6 degrees Celsius) set on May 25, 1886. Across the border in Pakistan, temperatures crossed “critical” thresholds this week, hitting 124.7 degrees Fahrenheit (51.5 degrees Celsius) Thursday in the city of Jacobabad as officials in that state issued health warnings to the public.

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(Temperatures rocketed to 123-125 F along India’s border with Pakistan on Thursday. These are the hottest temperatures ever recorded for this region of the world. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Closer to the coast, temperatures rose as high as 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 C). In the city of Surat, hospitals were strained by an influx of people suffering from heat injuries. People afflicted with giddiness, unconsciousness, dehydration, a bloody nose, abdominal pain, chest pain, and other heat related injuries flooded local health care facilities with emergency calls. As of Thursday, SMIMER hospital had reported 1,226 calls related to heat casualties since the start of May.

Local Surat weather services reported periods when temperatures spiked to 38-42 C and humidity — supplied by moisture flooding off the heating Arabian Sea — remained near 65 percent. These are wet bulb readings in the range of 32 to 34.4 C — a combination of heat and humidity that is very dangerous to anyone exposed for even brief periods.

340 Heat Deaths in Dehli

Across India, the story of heat casualties was much the same. Though no official national estimate of heat related injuries or deaths has yet been given, the current heatwave and related drought is far worse than that experienced during 2015 when 2500 people lost their lives in the excessive heat. But it’s reasonable to assume that heat injuries across India now number in the tens of thousands with tragic heat deaths likely now numbering in the hundreds to thousands.

In the capital city of Delhi, reports were coming in that the homeless population — swelled by farmers who lost their livelihoods due to a crippling three-year-drought — was suffering hundreds of heat-related deaths. As of Thursday, official estimates identified 340 total heat deaths among this increasingly vulnerable population.

Severe Drought and Record Heat — Conditions Consistent with Human-Caused Climate Change

Heat building into extreme record ranges and mounting heat casualties come as India suffers what is likely its worst drought on record. Last month, international water monitors identified 330 million people suffering from water shortages across India. As a result, the government has been forced to resort to extreme measures — posting guards at dwindling reservoirs, sending water trains to provide people in hard-hit regions with a life-saving ration of water, and planning to divert water from the greatly shrunken Ganges to aid parched regions.

Extreme heat of this kind, wet bulb temperatures approaching 35 C, heatwave mass casualties, and a never-before-seen drought are all conditions related to a human-forced warming of the globe. Though El Nino, during the 20th Century, brought with it a cyclical heat, a potential monsoonal weakening, and an increased risk of drought, the severity of the crisis now afflicting India is too great to be pinned on El Nino alone. India has now suffered three years of delayed monsoons — delays which began before the current El Nino took hold. Water levels in the Himalayas are low due to a decadal warming that has forced snow packs to retreat which has, in its turn, left India’s rivers increasingly vulnerable to drying. And global temperatures hitting in the range of 1.3 C above 1880s levels are absolutely adding intensity to the current heatwave and dryness.

Links:

Wet Bulb at 35 C

Heatwave Mass Casualties Strike India in 2015

Heatwave Injuries Mount in Surat

Earth Nullschool

India Shatters All-Time Hottest Temperature Record on Thursday

India Temperature Records

Hat Tip to DT Lange

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

 

 

 

 

 

Heatwave Mass Casualties Strike India in April Amidst Severe Drought, Water Shortages

Loss of water from snow melt in the Himalayas, increasing temperatures and instances of drought over the food-producing plains, and a potential endemic weakening of the annual monsoonal rains. These are all climate change related impacts that appear to be settling in over India as global temperatures consistently begin to hit levels higher than 1 C above 1880s values. Impacts that are setting up conditions for sustained and increasingly severe droughts and heatwaves.

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Yesterday, temperatures rocketed to 114.44 degrees Fahrenheit (or 45.8 degrees Celsius) in Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Odisha, on the Indian east coast. It was the hottest April reading ever recorded for a region that typically sees daily highs in the upper 90s this time of year. A level of heat that’s excessive even for this typically warm region.

India Heatwave

(Most of India baked under a severe heatwave yesterday [April 11] as the number of lives lost to heat stroke mounted and a water train was dispatched to far-flung drought-stricken regions. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Bhubaneshwar, however, was just one of many locations experiencing temperatures above 110 Degrees (F) yesterday. For a broad heatwave and a related severe drought has sprawled over much of India throughout early April — hitting a peak intensity for many locations this week. Heat so intense that it had already resulted in the tragic loss of more than 110 lives due to heat stroke by April 9th.

India’s Two Year Drought

The drought itself is an ongoing feature — one that has lasted now for two years in many provinces as abnormally high temperatures and reduced monsoonal rains have produced severe and widespread impacts. In total, 10 of India’s 29 states are now suffering under drought conditions. Some locations, like the Maharashtra town of Latur, east of  Mumbai, are experiencing water shortages so severe that Indian officials have dispatched a drought relief train — containing a half a million liters of water — to provide aid. For hardest hit areas, the situation is so dire that riots are now a risk — prompting authorities to outlaw gatherings of more than 5 people near some water distribution sites. Maharashtra itself is experiencing some of the most severe losses with reports indicating that reservoirs there are at less than 5 percent capacity. Average capacity for all reservoirs throughout India amounted to just 29 percent by the end of March — and the annual monsoonal rains are still at least two months away.

Overall impacts are quite widespread. Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand has declared a water emergency. And the Ganges River is now so low that it is unable to provide water to cool one of the largest coal-fired electrical power stations in West Bengal — forcing it to suspend operations.The great river is dramatically shrunken — causing islands of mud to emerge even as pollutants concentrate in its thinning thread. A diminishing flow that India’s 1.3 billion people rely on for much of their water. It’s a greater crisis so extreme that late last month one of BBC’s India correspondents asked — is this the worst water crisis India has ever faced?

Such broad-ranging and long-lasting drought has hit India’s farmers hard. Last year, more than 3,500 farmers committed suicide after facing some of the worst conditions ever to strike India. This year, the situation is arguably even worse — forcing some desperate regions to consider cloud seeding as a means of possible drought alleviation.

Stronger Monsoon for 2016? Or Will A Warming Globe Dim India’s Hopes For Rain?

Reports from India’s Meteorological Division have called for a normal to above normal monsoon to provide replenishing rains this year. However, monsoonal predictions over the past two years were overly optimistic, which is cause for caution over last week’s forecast.

Overall, the early extreme record heat and drought over India provides a barrier to any influx of monsoonal moisture. In addition, El Nino conditions — possibly hanging on in the Central Pacific through June — may help to dull or delay monsoonal development even as a predicted progression to La Nina later in the year provides some hope for additional moisture during late Summer and Fall. A switch to rains that may well be quite intense for some regions given the unprecedented atmospheric moisture content as a result of record high global temperatures.

Longer-term, there are growing indications that climate change is starting to impact India’s breadbasket. Record high temperatures over the Gangetic Plain — India’s productive farming region south of the Himalayas — are starting to take hold as a result of a human-forced warming of the globe. A condition that IPCC reports indicate could decimate (reduce by ten percent) wheat, corn, soy and sorghum yields over the coming years. So even as a shift to La Nina provides some hope for an alleviation of India’s current drought woes later in 2016, the larger trend is for an increasing prevalence of drought and extreme heat as a reckless fossil fuel emission continues to force the globe to warm.

Links:

India Scrambles to Alleviate Severe Drought

Is India Facing its Worst-Ever Water Crisis?

Water Train Reaches Latur

Heatwave Claims 111 Lives in India

India Meteorological Division

With Months to Go For Rains, this is the Drought Map of India

Earth Nullschool

Drought, El Nino and a Weak Monsoon Conspire to Hit Indian Farmers

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

Hat Tip to TodaysGuestIs

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