April Heat Wave in South Asia Made 30 Times More Likely by Climate Change

April 18, 2023 temperature anomaly across South Asia and Southeast Asia in degrees C.

April 18, 2023 temperature anomaly across South Asia and Southeast Asia in degrees C. WeatherBELL

Deadly heat and humidity across India, Bangladesh, Laos, and Thailand in late April was made significantly more likely by climate change, scientists say.

In parts of Bangladesh, temperatures soared to 105 degrees F (40.6 degrees C), while several Indian cities saw highs of 111 degrees F (44 degrees C). Laos and Thailand recorded temperatures up to 109 degrees F (42.9 degrees C) and 114 degrees F (45.4 degrees C), respectively, all-time highs for both countries. The hot spell led to a spike in heat strokes across the region.

According to an analysis from World Weather Attribution, warming made the heat wave in India and Bangladesh 30 times more likely. In Southeast Asia, scientists say, the extreme heat and humidity would have been “virtually impossible” without the influence of climate change.

The highly unusual weather shows the “huge impact of climate change on heat,” tweeted Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London and coauthor of the analysis. Despite the growing threat of extreme heat, she added, only one of the four countries studied, India, has heat action plans in place.

The Earth has warmed by around 2.2 degrees F (1.2 degrees C) on average since the preindustrial era. If warming reaches 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C), the analysis found, the severe heat and humidity seen in April will become three times more likely in India and Bangladesh and 10 times more likely in Laos and Thailand.


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