Non-survivable humid heat to effect tens of millions in South Asia

If climate change is unchecked (RCP 8.5) South Asia  will experience heat waves that “exceed the survivability threshold” (sic!) from 2070 onwards. Researchers at MIT conclude in a 2017 study that 4% of the South Asia-population, about 70 million people, would face heatwaves of humid heat that will kill even healthy people in the shade within hours. The wet bulb temperature (WTB) would reach 35°C, which means that the human body cannot cool itself and shuts down.

Three quarters (1.3 billion people) in South Asia would experience at least one heatwave before the end of the century with wet bulb temperatures of 31°C, conditions of ‘extreme danger’. To compare: In 2015 there was a severe episode in wich 30°C WTB was measured. This led to 3,500 deaths in South Asia. According to this article the largest hospital in Karachi was receiving 1 patient per minute and the morgue was overflowing.

Wet bulb temperature. The figure most right shows non-survivable temperatures in heat waves under business as usual scenario (no carbon cuts, 2071-2100) at locations in the Chota Nagpur platearu, northeastern India, and Bangladesh. WTB temperatures approaching 35C would occur over most of South Asia (here: Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka), including the Ganges river valley, northeastern India, the eastern coast of India and the Indus Valley of Pakistan.

Wet bulb temperatures currently rarely exceeds 31°C. 35°C WTB has never been measured yet.

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