Climate change to cause humid heatwaves that will kill even healthy people
Extreme heatwaves that kill even healthy people within hours will strike parts of the Indian subcontinent unless global carbon emissions are cut sharply and soon, according to new research.
Even outside of these hotspots, three-quarters of the 1.7bn population – particularly those farming in the Ganges and Indus valleys – will be exposed to a level of humid heat classed as posing “extreme danger” towards the end of the century.
The new analysis assesses the impact of climate change on the deadly combination of heat and humidity, measured as the “wet bulb” temperature (WBT). Once this reaches 35C, the human body cannot cool itself by sweating and even fit people sitting in the shade will die within six hours.
The revelations show the most severe impacts of global warming may strike those nations, such as India, whose carbon emissions are still rising as they lift millions of people out of poverty…
Heatwaves are already a major risk in South Asia, with a severe episode in 2015 leading to 3,500 deaths, and India recorded its hottest ever day in 2016 when the temperature in the city of Phalodi, Rajasthan, hit 51C. Another new study this week linked the impact of climate change to the suicides of nearly 60,000 Indian farmers.
Death Valley just experienced the hottest month ever recorded in the U.S.
The average temperature in Death Valley last month was a stifling, suffocating 107.4 degrees. It was the hottest month ever recorded in the United States, and the second-hottest in the world — by just a fraction of a degree.
The average monthly temperature is a combination of highs and lows. Daytime temperatures in Death Valley are known to be excruciatingly hot. In fact, it is currently the location of the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth, 134 degrees. (Note: This record is currently being challenged.)
But perhaps more alarming in this record is the month’s overnight temperatures — when things are supposed to cool down. The temperature didn’t fall below 89 degrees at any point in the month of July at Death Valley. On three nights, the “low” temperature was 102-103 degrees….
….many cities in the West — and one in the Southeast — had their hottest month on record in July:
- Salt Lake City: 85.3 degrees (previous was 84.1 degrees in July 2013)
- Reno, Nev.: 80.5 degrees (tie with July 2014)
- Tonopah, Nev.: 78.9 degrees (previous 78.6 degrees in July 1931)
- Ely, Nev.: 71.8 degrees (previous 71.6 degrees in July 2003; however, an old and dubious report of 72.8 degrees in July 1908 is in the books)
- Bishop, Calif.: 80.8 degrees (previous was 80.6 degrees in July 2005)
- Miami: 85.7 degrees (previous 85.5 degrees in June 2010). This was anomalous for Florida. No other site in the state came close to breaking its record (i.e., West Palm Beach averaged just 84.3 degrees, almost a full 2 degrees short of its record 86.2 degrees set in July 2016).
The record-hot month in Death Valley adds to a growing group of locations to set all-time heat records this summer around the Northern Hemisphere:
In late July, Shanghai registered its highest temperature in recorded history, 105.6 degrees (40.9 Celsius).
In mid-July, Spain posted its highest temperature ever recorded when Córdoba airport (in southern Spain) hit 116.4 degrees (46.9 Celsius).
In late June, Ahvaz, Iran, soared to 128.7 degrees Fahrenheit (53.7 Celsius) — that country’s all-time hottest temperature.
In late May, the western Pakistani town of Turbat hit 128.3 degrees (53.5 Celsius), tying the all-time highest temperature in that country and the world record temperature for May, according to Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters.
Historic heat roasts Pacific Northwest, but wildfire smoke lessens intensity
An overpowering dome of hot air has entrenched itself over the Pacific Northwest and is primed to cook population centers like Seattle and Portland in record-crushing heat through Friday.
Excessive heat warnings blanket the western third of Northern California, Oregon and Washington state. High temperatures just inland from coastal locations are forecast to soar to between 100 and 110 degrees.
“We are talking about one of the major sustained heat waves in a long time around here,” writes Cliff Mass, professor of meteorology at the University of Washington. He said that “there is a lot of confidence” temperatures will at least reach the mid-90s in Seattle and notes the GFS model projects a high of 100 on Thursday — a reading he can’t “remember ever seeing”.