Scientists Are Estimating Heatwaves Could “Hit Temperatures” That Humans Can’t Survive
Scientists have issued clear warnings that some countries in what are already very warm climates could produce levels of heat and humidity that will kill many people if they are exposed to it. Although the temperatures won’t actually reach 77C it will have the same feel which is deadly. Areas of the Persian Gulf such as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain plus others will experience this. Heatwaves that have been experienced in the USA and Europe will pale into significance when compared to this.
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According to the study, the “heat index” – a measure of what temperature it feels like outside – for Persian Gulf countries could hit between 74C and 77C for at least six hours during the middle of the day.
That’s so hot that the human body is incapable of producing sweat to get rid of heat, making it dangerous even for healthy, fit people to stay outside for any length of time.
The heat index measures the impact of both temperature and humidity on people. With 50 per cent humidity, it would take a base temperature of 45C to reach those sorts of heat index levels. But crank the humidity up to 100 per cent, and it starts to feel like 77C when the mercury hits 35C.
“You can go to a wet sauna and put the temperature up to 35 (Celsius or 95 degrees Fahrenheit) or so. You can bear it for a while, now think of that at an extended exposure” of six or more hours, said study co-author Elfatih Eltahir, an MIT environmental engineering professor.
Such temperatures wouldn’t be expected every single day. But according to the simulations, super-heatwaves will come around once a decade or so by the end of the century – and bring mass fatalities.
Not everywhere in the Gulf would be rendered uninhabitable by these events. Developed cities such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha could still function thanks to the widespread availability of air conditioning.
But Eltahir and study co-author Jeremy Pal, of Loyola Marymount University, said that for people living and working outside, or with no air conditioning in their homes, it would be intolerable.
“Some of the scariest prospects from a changing clime involve conditions completely outside the range of human experience,” Carnegie Institute for Science climate researcher Chris Field, who wasn’t part of the study, said.
“If we don’t limit climate change to avoid extreme heat or mugginess, the people in these regions will likely need to find other places to live.”
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