Climate Crisis Linked to Rising Lightning-Related Deaths In India

ON 07/15/2020 AT 00:00 AM

Lightning strikes during the annual monsoon that runs from June to September are fairly common in India, but the season in Bihar has only just begun. Authorities have warned of more thunderstorms to come.

Death by Lightning Strikes in India directly linked to Climate Change Photo: Giriongole / CC BY-SA

An unprecedented surge in deaths caused by lightning strikes have been blamed on climate change  owing to the loss of  more than 140 lives in the north Indian state of Bihar, cites India Today.

The latest deaths bring the number of those killed by lightning in the state to around 215 since late March, already surpassing the total number of deaths for the whole of last year.

Lightning strikes during the annual monsoon that runs from June to September are fairly common in India, but the season in Bihar has only just begun and authorities have warned of more thunderstorms to come.

The deadly trend has been blamed on rising temperatures caused by climate change.

Last year, 170 people were reported to have been killed by lightning strikes during the monsoon period.

Elevated heat and excessive moisture are causing large-scale instability in the atmosphere, fuelling thunder and lightning storms, says Bihar agrometeorologist Abdus Satta.

State authorities have rolled out a mobile phone app to help  predict possible lightning strikes but many poor farmers do not own smartphones.

More than 2,300 people were killed by lightning in India in 2018 according to the National Crime Records Bureau, the most recent figures available.

The last decade was the hottest on record in India, with temperatures averaging 0.36 degrees above normal. The rising temperatures have been linked to increasingly frequent heatwaves followed by delayed but more intense monsoons.

A report last year from India’s Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council warned the changing weather patterns are making deadly lightning strikes “the new normal” in many parts of the country.