Adaptation challenges

  • Continuous rise in average temperature will lead to more extreme heat conditions, posing threats to many South Asians


The impacts of increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere such as average temperature rise and changes in precipitation dynamics that pose an existential threat to millions in the global south are frequently discussed. A range of different actors are leading efforts to identify and scale adaptation measures. But the increase in accumulated heat at local levels is less discussed and systematically studied, though this accumulation poses equally serious challenges.

Extreme heat is already becoming a regular problem in many parts of the world, including in South Asia. High temperature and humidity in the air raise the heat index or apparent temperature, and further increases risks for people. As the apparent temperature approaches the average human body temperature of 37 degrees C, it is harder for the body to function. If temperatures exceed this threshold for more than three days and nights in a row, it may result in a heat stroke. The body must cool down to recover. Without cooling down, our capacity to function effectively decreases quickly. In the Ganga plains, temperatures are likely to approach 37 degrees C for a higher number of days, and the elderly, children and pregnant women will face increased risks of heat strokes.