Climate Issues in India – UPSC GS1

It is being reported that many parts of North India are suffering from severe cold waves. Examine the causes and nature of these cold waves. (150 Words)

India has a monsoon type of climate with seasonal reversal of wind system due to interplay of a number of factors like circumpolar whirl, jet streams, movement of sun to north and south of equator, tropical and temperate cyclones.
The cold wave that establishes over northern india is a temporary phenomenon but can remain active for a number of days. The main reasons for this cold wave are:
    1. formation of temperate cyclones in area around Mediterranean sea and their movement towards east under influence of westerly jet stream.
    2. southward movement of circum polar whirl due to southward movement of sun.
    3. bifurcation of circum polar whirl by himalayas and establishment of anticyclonic conditions over multan and karachi area of pakistan.
The southward movement of sun causes fall in temperature over north western and northern india . this causes formation of high pressure area in this region.
The anticyclonic wind circulation in upper atmosphere due to southern branch of circumpolar whirl intensifies the subsidence of air in this area.
Now the temperate cyclones which are brought by jet stream to this area do not get chance to rise upward due to subsiding air and further decrease the temperature of this area causing cold wave. But as soon as these temperate cyclones also called as western disturbances gets a chance to rise due to weakening of subsidence of air, they cause winter rainfall in northern and north-western India. Thus the nature of these cold waves is temporary.


In India heat waves are on the rise thanks to climate change and related factors. What measures should be taken by governments to deal with heat waves and their effects? Examine. (200 Words)
Heat waves are a phenomenon in which there is a prolonged period of excessive hot weather. Heat wave onset in considered only after the maximum temperature of an area reaches at least 40 degrees in the plains and at least 30 degrees in the hilly regions. It poses a risk to lives of people, especially to the vulnerable sections of society like the homeless, physical labourer, malnourished children etc. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha are particularly susceptible to heat wave.
    1. Heat wave action plan must be developed which should take States on board. Till now, Ahmadabad is the only city which has HWAP. It should deal with early warning, building public awareness and building a trained healthcare workforce.
    2. There should be an aggressive public awareness campaign especially in vulnerable regions. Radio, newspapers, mobile alerts, TV all should be used so as to reach even the last person. This is to educate people to look for early signs and symptoms and to take care of their diet during summers.
    3. Heat waves should be included in the list of natural disasters which can ensure more systematic planning for mitigation
    4. Temporary relief centers (made with bamboo or coconut leaves),
    5. Regular supply of power (as power cuts increase during HWs), supply of ORS etc.
    6. Massive afforestation campaign,
    7. Adherence to Green building norms which will reduce the heat generated through buildings. All the residential projects should compulsorily include areas reserved for green belt etc.
    8. Emphasis on Public Transport to reduce the vehicular exhaust.
    9. Capacity building among the health professionals for proper treatment. This is important in the context of news about improper treatment resulting in deaths.
Apart from these short term measures, long term efforts that government should undertake include increasing the green cover, better designed buildings, Sustainable development and all that which would help in the cause of climate change. This would go a long way to deal with Heat wave and reduce human impact.


In the light of recent heat waves that killed many in India, critically analyse their effect on the economy and health of the public. (200 Words)
Heat wave refers to a situation when extremely high temperatures occur over a prolonged period of time. Although it is not yet officially recognized as a natural disaster, the harm it causes is catastrophic. It has already killed more than 2,000 people this year and the death toll is rising every year. The other health effects are also too agonizing. It gives rise to many immediate health problems like dehydration of the body that significantly decreases our efficiency of doing work. It also causes physical health problems like heat edema, heat rashes and heat strokes. The heat increases the irritability, decreases the concentration and people thus tend to lose focus. Thus it causes serious mental and psychological problems as well. Other effects:
    1. Cardiovascular and respiratory disorders.
    2. Heat strokes
    3. Nausea and irritation
    4. Cataract
    5. Heat rashes and bacterial infection.
    6. Insect borne diseases due to increase in the insect vectors.
Economic effects include:
    1. Increased power requirements: Due to high temperatures, the need of Air conditioners and coolers increase, which creates a very high demand of electricity
    2. Continuous power cuts, absenteeism leads to decrease in the industrial productivity.
    3. Reduction in the growth of tourism sector.
    4. Infrastructural development like roads and buildings are affected because of lack of labour .
    5. Extra load on the hospitals: The health problems associated with it directly increases the load on all the medical facilities. The lack of such medical facilities in India, especially in the rural areas is a cause of concern.
    6. Damage to livestock, poultry, and dairy animals: The heat kills a lot of animals and they also suffer all the health problems, thus causing a significant loss to the economy
    7. Overall efficiency of all the humans decreases, thus it may cause a decrease in the overall national production.
    8. Agricultural remains one of the most severely affected industry due to decrease in the crop productivity and water requirements. Excessive evaporation from the soil leafs to acidification which as a result affects crop production



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