India has seen millions of people fleeing failing agriculture to megacities that are poorly equipped to handle the influx amid increased threats from climate hazards particularly floods and heat waves, say researchers.

Climate change that affects agriculture is driving migrants to relocate to urban areas like New Delhi and Mumbai in search of better living conditions and alternative livelihoods, according to a study published 19 July in Nature Climate Change.

“Although migration is perceived as an important adaptation mechanism to counteract the negative outcomes of climate change, climate extremes at the destination location can have a detrimental effect on migrants,” says Vittal Hari, an author of the study and researcher at UFZ–Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, in Leipzig, Germany.

According to Vittal, the study highlights how the emergence of two fundamentally different but equally devastating hazards — heatwaves and floods — can contribute to the vulnerability of migrants at their destination.

In South Asia, deadly heatwaves are projected to increase in the future as a result of climate change. “As increasing heat in urban areas is intrinsically linked to population growth, we envisage that a large influx of migrants will further amplify the effect of heatwaves in the already densely populated megacities,” the study said.

Between 1978 and 2014, India suffered more than 660 heat waves – defined as temperatures above the normal average and lasting two days or more – that caused the deaths of 12,273 people, according to a study published in June.

Read the full article about the climate hazards facing India's rural migrants at Eco-Business.