Understanding the spatio-temporal structure of recent heat waves over India

  • C. Neethu
  • K. V. RameshEmail author
  • K. B. Shafeer
Original Paper


Major heat waves are occurring over India during the hottest months of May and June. Since the temperature extremes have major impact on human health and agriculture, better understanding the dynamics behind its evolution and propagation will help us to develop effective mitigation strategies. Understanding the spatio-temporal distribution, evolution and dynamics associated with heat waves is lacking over this region, due to the lack of high-resolution weather information. Here, we developed a high-resolution (4 × 4 km) dynamically downscaled hourly climate data for April to June during period of 2001–2016. The downscaled daily surface temperature is in good agreement with station observations, which is also in agreement with the observed features of temperature distribution during this period. Based on the Indian meteorological department definition, intensity of the heat waves is identified and re-classified into minor and severe category. The spatio-temporal distribution of each heat wave shows variation in its spatial coverage and also in its intensity. The distributions of heat waves are mainly over central India, North-West India and states such as Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana during pre-monsoon season. Results show that the increase in meridional heat transport is higher than the zonal advection component, and intensification of heat waves is linked with heat accumulation over a particular region associated with weakening of heat transport. The further amplification associated with depletion of soil moisture will result in the reduction in evaporative cooling, and it will further amplify the surface air temperature.


Heat wave Temperature extremes Heat transport Meridional Zonal 



The authors are thankful to DST for funding the project entitled “Extreme weather and climate events in the 21st century projections from different climate scenarios”.


  1. Beniston M (2004) The 2003 heat wave in Europe: A shape of things to come? An analysis based on Swiss climatological data and model simulations. Geophy Res Lett. Google Scholar
  2. Dole Randall et al (2011) Was there a basis for anticipating the 2010 Russian heat wave? Geophy Res Lett 38:L06702. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fischer EM, Seneviratne SI, Lüthi D, Schär C (2007) Contribution of land–atmosphere coupling to recent European summer heat waves. Geophys Res Lett 34:L06707. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Guha-Sapir D, Below R, Hoyois PH (2016) The international disaster Université Catholique de Louvain, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  5. Jaswal AK, Rao PCS, Singh Virendra (2015) Climatology and trends of summer high temperature days in India during 1969–2013. J Earth Syst Sci 124:1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kothawale, Rupa Kumar K (2005) On the recent changes in the surface temperature trends over India. Geophy Res Lett. Google Scholar
  7. Kothwale DR, Revadekar JV, Rupa Kumar K (2010) Recent trend in pre-monsoon daily temperature extremes over India. J Earth Syst Sci 119:51–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Malini BH, Lalitha K, Raju MG, Rao KN (2016) Severe heat wave during May 2015 in Andhra Pradesh. Curr Sci 110(10):1893–1894Google Scholar
  9. Meehl G, Tebaldi S (2004) More intense, more frequent, and longer lasting heat waves in the 21st century. Science 305:994–997. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Miralles DG, van den Berg M, Teuling R, De Jeu RAM (2012) Soil moisture-temperature coupling: a multiscale observational analysis. Geophy Res Lett 39:L21707. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Miralles DG, Teuling AJ, Heerwaarden CCV, Arellano JVGD (2014) Mega-heatwave temperatures due to combined soil desiccation and atmospheric heat accumulation. Nat Geosci. Google Scholar
  12. Murari KK, Ghosh S, Patwardhan A, Daly E, Salvi K (2014) Intensification of future severe heat waves in India and their effect on heat stress and mortality. Reg Environ Change. Google Scholar
  13. Perkins SE (2015) A review on the scientific understanding of heatwaves—their measurement, driving mechanisms and changes at the global scale. Atmos Res 164–165:242–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Perkins SE, Alexander LV, Nairn JR (2012) Increasing frequency, intensity and duration of observed global heat waves and warm spells. Geophy Res Lett 39:L20714. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ratnam JV, Behra SK, Ratna SB, Rajeevan M, Yamagata T (2016) Anatomy of Indian heatwaves. Nature 6:24395. Google Scholar
  16. Rohini P, Rajeevan M, Srivastava AK (2016) On the variability and increasing trends of heat waves over India. Nature 6:26153. Google Scholar
  17. Sharma JK et al (2009) A study of heat wave/severe heat wave over Bihar and Jharkhand. Mausam 60:89–106Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIR Fourth Paradigm Institute (Formerly CSIR CMMACS)BangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Visvesvaraya Technological UniversityBelagaviIndia
  3. 3.Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), CSIR Fourth Paradigm InstituteBengaluruIndia

Personalised recommendations