Cities in UAE, Pakistan cross threshold of heat human body can bear: Weather data

A herd of camel walk through the wild in Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, on October 1, 2016. (AP)

Some regions in the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan have repeatedly crossed the deadly threshold of heat that human body can withstand, an analysis of weather station data found.

Ras al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates and Jacobabad in Pakistan have crossed the threshold of 35°C Wet bulb temperature (TW), which is a measure of heat and humidity, taken from a thermometer covered in a water-soaked cloth, according to a US-UK team which analyzed weather station data across the world.

It’s the first time that such a breach has been reported in scientific literature.

The temperature of 35°C TW is thought of as a key threshold, as beyond it the body is unable to cool itself by sweating. But lower levels can still be deadly as the 2003 European heatwave which has not passed 28°C TW killed thousands.

People cool off in a stream during a heat wave, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on June 3, 2018. According to Pakistan's state-run Meteorological Department, many cities are facing heat wave conditions with temperatures reaching 49 C in Sibbi, Moenjodaro, Jacobabad and Bakkar. (AP)

People cool off in a stream during a heat wave, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on June 3, 2018. According to Pakistan's state-run Meteorological Department, many cities are facing heat wave conditions with temperatures reaching 49 C in Sibbi, Moenjodaro, Jacobabad and Bakkar. (AP)

The team also found that the frequency of wet bulb temperatures exceeding temperatures between 27°C TW and 35°C TW had all doubled since 1979. They said most of the frequency increases were in the Arabian Gulf, India, Pakistan and south-west North America.

“The crossings of all of these thresholds imply greater risk to human health– we can say we are universally creeping close to this magic threshold of 35°C. The tantalizing conclusion is it looks like, in some cases for a brief period of the day, we have exceeded this value,” Tom Matthews at Loughborough University in the UK told the New Scientist magazine.

His team which looked at another weather dataset, based on temperature and humidity observations and modelling, said several areas of the Arabian Gulf would see the possibility of 35°C TW happening once every 30 years at around 2.3°C of global warming.

He said although Gulf states have the capacity to cope with intense humid temperatures by investing in air conditioning, once the extremes affect more parts of Pakistan and India, they would require huge amounts of energy for cooling, further exacerbating climate.

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