Since 1919, Pakistan’s 7 out of 11 maximum temperatures have all occurred in the 21st century!
In a follow-up to the article published on April 29, 2022, Ever-increasing heat waves are a cause of concern in Pakistan, we have found that since meteorological records began in 1919, 25 cities in the country have reported temperatures at 50°C or above. Out of which, the 2010 heat wave led 11 cities to record temperatures above 50°C.
(Based on GoP’s data) Interestingly enough, the rate of mercury touching 50°C or above has drastically increased in the 21st century with Pakistan now almost annually recording such high temperatures. As per our below graph which has been developed by citing the data from the Government of Pakistan and India, only 4 cities/towns had a temperature of 50°C or above in the 20th century (1919, 1978, 1996 and 1998). Whereas, this number has dangerously increased in recent years. With the start of the new century, we already have 7 cities (2007-2017) reporting an extreme temperature of 50°C or above.
*In April 2018, Nawabshah recorded 50.3°C. While Jacobabad reported 51°C in May 2022. PWP does not hold the data from 2019 to 2021.
There is a probability that the heatwave of 2022 can reach or break Pakistan’s all-time high record of 53.7°C set in 2017 in Turbat. According to the United Nations, the record of Turbat is the 4th maximum temperature recorded on Planet Earth. Sindh province can experience week-long temperatures of 48°C to 51°C. The scorching heat wave will last for 7 to 10 days and it will be much stronger than the one in March & April given that the month of May is the hottest in the region. Also, there is a possibility of the current 3-month long heat wave extending into its 4th month in June but with temporary relief due to westerlies.
The ‘everlasting’ heat wave has shed light on individuals living in such areas and how they are at the frontline in the path of climate change. Despite being warm blooded animals, the scorching heat waves are putting the human body at risk. Environmental temperature above 42°C is considered danger to life, causing fatigue, loss of consciousness or even death. People living in the ‘extreme heat wave prone areas’ of Pakistan mainly upper Sindh, South Punjab and Eastern Balochistan should be praised for their resilience. What used to be a ‘once-in-a-decade’ heat wave, is now becoming a yearly event. They are tolerating temperature which is unbearable to the human body. The mercury will only rise from here as evident from historical data. We need a climate policy now!