Sweltering summers: Why Pakistan’s Jacobabad witnessed rise in mercury level too severe for human tolerance

By: |
July 01, 2021 4:42 PM

Always known for its scorching summers, the city’s 2,00,000 residents at life-threatening 52 degrees Celsius are now running for covers.

pakistan Jacobabad, Scorching summers, Pakistan summer, Jacocabad temperature, Pakistan Indus valley city temperature, climate changeHeat wave has affected several cities along the Tropic if Cancer. (Representative Image)

Weather has been extremely unkind in the aa city at the Sindh province of Pakistan, called Jacobabad. The heatwaves were so extreme that it has officially surpassed the human tolerance threshold temperature, said a Telegraph. Always known for its scorching summers, the city’s 2,00,000 residents at life-threatening 52 degrees Celsius are now running for covers. Jacobabad became the second city to have crossed this fatal threshold temperature after United Arab Emirates Ras al Khaimah.

According to climate experts, the city reached the grim milestone, decades ahead of their predictions.  Frequent power cuts and few having access to Air Conditioners made the situation worse. Population succumbing to head strokes or heat-related illness were also witnessed.

How Jacobabad witnessed such a blistering summer

This region in Pakistan along the Indus valley is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Being situated along the Tropic of Cancer, Jacobabad has sun overhead during the summer months. Moreover, the humid air from the Arabian Sea also contributes to the rising mercury level, making the weather all the more discomforting.

Heat is most dangerous with high levels of humidity. Researchers conduct a ‘wet bulb temperature’ experiment to underscore temperature discomfort with humidity. A thermometer reading is taken as it is (dry bulb) and then covered in a moist cloth. Although the temperature with wet bulb red 35 degrees Celsius, the body stops cooling itself by sweating as a result there are chances of organ failure leading to death.

Temperature crossing 52 degrees Celsius can be fatal to human beings, says a study conducted by Colin Raymong, Tom Matthews, and Radley M Horton.  The temperature is expected to go beyond 52 degrees Celsius in near future. However, this not the first time the city crossed the threshold. It happened in July 1987, June 2005, June 10, and July 2012. The only respite was the temperature hovered around the threshold only for few hours.

What this high temperature mean for Jacocabad residents

The daily dwellers in the Pakistani city have very few means to cope up with the sweltering heat. Most of them belong to low-income groups and cannot afford ACs. Some choose to migrate to Karachi or Quetta, during the particularly hot summer months.  While others opt for solar panels to beat power cuts. Markets at Jacobabad sell fans, low-tech coolers, ice at cheap rates.

On the other side, Has al Khaimah is a wealthy city in the UAE, has no dearth of electricity, and residents hence barely feel the effect when inside their homes.

Other countries with dangerously high temperature

Parts of eastern coastal India, northwestern India also record temperatures over 31 degrees Celsius (wet bulb) during summer months. According to IMD, the temperature is steadily increasing across seasons. In 2015, heat waves that hit India and Pakistan left 4,000 people dead. India’s average yearly temperature in 2020 was 25.78 degrees Celsius

The Gulf of California southern Gulf of Mexico and the Red Sea also experience extreme summer months, says the study.

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