India is suffering from a devastating heat wave that is destroying lives and crops and depleting the nation’s water supplies.
And today, in a year which has seen the hottest April in recorded history, India set a new temperature record.
From USA Today:
India sweltered to a scorching 123.8 degrees Thursday, setting a new all-time high that breaks a 60-year-old record, the India Meteorological Department said.
Officials recorded the blistering temperature in Phalodi in Rajasthan state in the northwestern part of the country. It bests a record most recently set in 1956 of 123.1 degrees in the city of Alwar, also in Rajasthan. That temperature was also recorded May 25, 1886 in Pachpadra in the same state.
The hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth is 134 degrees in Death Valley, Calif., on July 10, 1913.
More on the impacts of the devastating Indian heat wave from the Toronto Globe and Mail:
The prolonged heat wave this year has already killed hundreds and destroyed crops in more than 13 states, impacting hundreds of millions of Indians.
Hundreds of farmers are reported to have killed themselves across the country and tens of thousands of small farmers have been forced to abandon their farmland and live in squalor in urban slums in order to earn a living.
Rivers, lakes and dams have dried up in many parts of the western states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat, and overall officials say that groundwater reservoirs are severely depleted.
In some areas, the situation is so bad the government has sent in water by train for emergency relief.
And some more context, yet more frightening, from Bloomberg:
The number of climate records broken in the last few years is stunning. But here’s a new measure of misery: Not only did we just experience the hottest April in 137 years of record keeping, but it was the 12th consecutive month to set a new record.
It’s been relentless. May 2015 was the hottest May in records dating back to 1880. That was followed by the hottest June. Then came a record July, August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March—and, we learned from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday—the hottest April. In an age of rising temperatures, monthly heat records have become all too common. Still, a string of 12 of them is without precedent.
Perhaps even more remarkable is the magnitude of the new records. The extremes of recent months are such that we’re only four months into 2016 and already there’s a greater than 99 percent likelihood that this year will be the hottest on record, according to Gavin Schmidt, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
If NASA’s Schmidt is right, 2016 will be the third consecutive year to set a new global heat record—the first time that’s ever happened. So far, 15 of the hottest 16 years ever measured have come in the 21st century.