2016: Hottest Year Yet?

Gulf countries in July faced record-breaking temperatures that went beyond 50ᵒc (Highest recorded - 54ᵒc in Kuwait, this year). Climate scientists and U.N. officials warn that this may directly threaten living conditions for residents in these countries and also aggravate the existing refugee crisis. All-time records were broken in United States as well, where some cities reported to it being the ‘Hottest July’ and also the ‘Hottest Month’ in history. Water scarcity and heat-oriented health issues are bound to increase in the future as well.

An image was released by NASA’s Earth Observatory Team from data collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer – MODIS, showing land surface temperatures in Asia between April 15 to April 23 - 2016. Yellow represented warmest temperatures and almost the whole of India fell within that category. 

Effects of El Niño (a climatic phenomenon which originated due to warm ocean water currents developing in the Central and Eastern-central equatorial Pacific Ocean) have receded, but temperatures globally are still soaring high. Recent evidences should be enough to silence climate change deniers who have been influential in discouraging countries from taking concrete steps towards controlling global warming. China, Canada and India are finally showing positive signs of changes in climate and energy policies.

Scientists also predicted that the cooler counter part of El Niño, ‘La Niña’ will be in effect very soon bringing down temperatures globally. This may positively help stabilize climatic conditions overall. But if we consider the list of hottest years between 1880-2015 (Annual Global Analysis – NOAA), ranks for the past three years 2013, 2014 and 2015 are 4th, 2nd and 1st respectively – 2016 is very much likely to become the hottest year till date.

What does it mean for India and what are the expected consequences? According to Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, atleast 2500 people died due to heat waves in 2015. It makes ‘Heat Waves’ a potentially large threat to India this year. Besides the current drought and flood-related problems that the country has been facing.

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