Heat waves are a drastic increase in surface temperature that lasts for a prolonged period i.e. 2-3 days or even a week. A heat wave can be measured by the difference in the amount of heat with the actual average temperature in that region. In some cases, heat waves may last for even more than a week depending upon the country and its weather conditions.
Heat waves didn’t exist before the 1950s and it was the first time in 1950 when heat waves were observed for the first time and many scientists relate it to climate change. Several studies and research show that heat waves mainly occur when the normal temperature of a region increases by 90 F in 5 days.
What Causes a Heat Wave?
Heat waves usually form when the hot air is pushed downwards by the high-pressure system created in the atmosphere that traps the heat waves and results in an increase in the surface temperature. This high-pressure system retards rainfall and making already-hot air even hotter. As long as this high-pressure system stays, heat waves also exist.
Impact of Heat Waves
Heat waves have a serious impact on almost living beings and as people are not prepared, it results quite lethal and leads to many deaths. Weather reports show that the earth’s surface temperature has been consistently increasing by 0.140F per decade after 1880. And this figure doubled up after 1980 leading to an increase in the earth’s temperature by 0.320F per decade.
A heat wave has a severe impact on humans as well as on animals, humans may observe skin infections, burns, dehydration, and even sometimes leads to death. Animals are more prone to heat than humans, as the animals live in an open space and thus are more exposed to heat waves, thus increasing the chances of death.
Heat waves increase the surface temperature, thus creating water scarcity which further leads to water shortage in crops. Thus the agricultural output decreases also trees start losing their leaves. Trees are the primary source of oxygen and also act as a shelter for strays and the heat waves affect them badly.
Heat waves have a crucial impact on trade and commerce as production began to fall due to less agricultural output the trade and commerce begin to fall. Also due to heat waves the power consumption of electrical appliances such as ACs and refrigerators increases, thus creating a power shortage.
Impact on Mortality
In the past few decades, it has been observed that the mortality rate has fallen rapidly due to heat waves. As humans and animals are exposed to heat waves there is a chance of several skin infections, burns, dehydration, and even death.
Precautions to Stay Safe From the Heat Wave
- Stay Hydrated: Taking in an ample amount of water in a day helps you stay hydrated and reduces the chances of dehydration due to heat waves.
- Stay in a Cool Environment: Try to stay in homes or offices with proper air conditioning and avoid travelling in an open vehicle or a vehicle without adequate air conditioning.
- Cover your Body: Wearing full sleeves clothes, goggles, and hats, and using sunscreen can reduce the effect of heat waves and avoid asking infections.
- Understand the Risk: As fewer people in a population are affected by heat waves, many people fail to take them seriously. However, neglecting the risk of heat waves can be risky because it could lead to a more serious problem in the long run.
What Steps Can be Taken to Control Heat Waves?
- Climate change needs to be controlled, which is the major cause of heat waves. And moving towards green fuels, using renewable sources of energy, and planting more trees can help in controlling climate change and controlling heat waves.
- Emissions or greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are one of the primary reasons for the increase in the surface temperature of the earth and global warming. Thus reducing the emission of greenhouse gases can help.
Heat waves started occurring only a few decades back, and this is due to climate change happening because of industrialization and modernization. However, industrialization also came up with chilling gadgets to fight heat waves. But not all people in this world have access to such expensive cooling gadgets, thus it’s necessary to control heat waves. A heat wave can turn out to be lethal for humans and animals over the long term if continuously exposed to heat waves.