Unbearable heat wave

ByElsa Sc S

Doing her graduation from LUMS & a keen researcher


June 4, 2022

Unbearable heat wave

Elsa Sc S is experiencing scorching heat

Pakistan is in the grip of an intense Unbearable heat wave making lives miserable for people. It is generally held that overall climate change has caused a series of debilitating effects on the weather in Pakistan with a rise in average annual temperatures, increase in heat wave days, rise in sea levels and a decrease in winter and summer rainfall in the arid plains and coastal areas. The current deadly heatwave is rather unprecedented as the country started experiencing early in the summer as April instead of the traditionally known months of May and June. This development is known as the fifth heatwave since March with temperatures recently hitting a record 49.2ºC (120.5ºF) with large areas in the plain of the country badly affected including interior Sindh, South and Central Punjab and Balochistan.

Pakistan experienced the highest temperatures from March heating up unbelievably in April and this increase is now considered to be highest since weather records began in 1901 unnerving meteorologists. In Pakistan the temperatures reached an unheard of 49ºC (120ºF) in April and 30% of the country’s land area has been affected by the extreme heat. As a result a glacier burst in Pakistan, causing flooding downstream. A bridge in Hassanabad village collapsed due to flash floods as a result. Due to the loss of crops caused by the heatwave, Pakistan had a bad crop creating shortage of wheat in the country that would be filled in by very expensive import.

The intense heat bought about power outages in the length and breadth of the country. The duration of power failures kept on increasing with increase in temperatures. The World Weather Attribution initiative analysed historical weather data saying that the current level of global warming has made heatwaves like the one the region is experiencing thirty times more likely. It was also pointed out that if global heating arrives at 2ºC more than pre-industrial levels, intense heat waves could occur as frequently as every five years. However, some believe that the results of the study are too conservative. Last week the United Kingdom’s Meteorological Office said that heatwaves caused by climate change are more likely to occur every three years.

Nonetheless, all the experts agree that climate change is the main cause of these unbearable heatwaves in the region adding that several atmospheric factors have led to the current heatwave out of which global warming is the biggest culprit. That is the root cause for the increase in heatwaves though more research is required to link climate change to other, less extreme weather fluctuations. Anyway, for the time being this weather is likely continue in the region with some brief let-up. Realising the situation, people are bracing up for the tough days ahead and government agencies have stepped up prevention and safety measures along with making people aware of the dangers inherent in the heatwave. With extreme heat also come health issues, and so far, at least 30 people have died in Pakistan. The authorities have expressed fears that the death toll will be much higher due to insufficient death registration. TW

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