New Delhi: Jacobabad, the city in Pakistan’s Sindh province, named after John Jacob, a long-forgotten British general and colonial administrator. This city is situated at the Tropic of Cancer, which means the sun is in close proximity during the summers. In the full summer blaze, the city’s temperature rises to 52 degrees Celcius forcing its residents to retreat inside their homes. This city of some 200,000 population has long been renowned for its fierce heat, but recent research has conferred an unwelcome scientific distinction.
The mixture of heat and humidity in its environment has made it one of only two places on earth that have now officially surpassed the threshold temperature which a human body can withstand.
Mr. Matthews, who is a lecturer in climate science at Loughborough University with his colleagues analysed global weather station data last year and found that Jacobabad and Ras al Khaimah, northeast of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, have both temporarily crossed the deadly threshold. The milestone had been surpassed decades ahead of predictions from climate change models.
The deadly temperature is a matter of grave concern as not all the residents of Jacobabad are financially sound to buy the air conditions and the frequent power cuts worsen the situation as residents have to thrive through the heat without any electric solution for three to four hours or more, daily.
Researchers say that at a wet-bulb (thermometer covered in a water-soaked cloth) reading of 35 degrees Celcius, the body can no longer cool itself by sweating and such a temperature can be fatal in a few hours, even to the fittest people.
According to a report published in an English daily, Jacobabad crossed the 35 degrees Celcius wet-bulb threshold in July 1987, then again in June 2005, June 2010 and July 2012. Each time the boundary may have been breached for only a few hours, but a three-day average maximum temperature has been recorded hovering around 34C in June 2010, June 2001 and July 2012. The dry bulb temperature is often over 50 degrees Celcius in the summer.
Wet-bulb thermometer readings are significantly lower than the more familiar dry bulb readings, which do not take humidity into account. Researchers say that at a wet-bulb reading of 35 degrees Celcius, the body can no longer cool itself by sweating and such a temperature can be fatal in a few hours, even to the fittest people.
As temperatures rise and rainfall patterns shift, difficulties with farming, irrigation, disease and labour are predicted by 2050 to badly hit people’s quality of living in parts of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.