The power of humid heat: why high humidity makes the heat even more unbearable

Hot summers are nothing new. However, every year the temperatures get higher and higher, and humidity plays an increasing role in the feeling of heat. What is a “wet bulb temperature” and why has it become an indicator of extreme danger for some regions?

A humid heat wave is a combination of high temperatures and high humidity. When the relative humidity approaches 100%, the air is saturated with water vapor and stops evaporating sweat from the skin. This makes it impossible to cool the body through perspiration, which leads to serious problems for people.

Scientists warn that such conditions are becoming increasingly common and dangerous. Colin Raymond, lead author of the severe heat and humidity study, notes that physiologically there is a limit when heat and humidity become impossible to acclimatize to. These conditions are already occurring and only intensifying.

The humid thermometer temperature is a new indicator to help determine not only how hot it is, but also how much people can handle this heat. To measure this temperature, the bulb of the thermometer is wrapped around a damp cloth. If the water evaporates, the thermometer cools and shows a lower temperature than the air. However, at high humidity, when water cannot evaporate, this effect is not present.

Why does high humidity make the heat even more unbearable?

Here are a few reasons:

1. Inability to cool the body. When humidity is close to 100%, sweat does not evaporate from the surface of the skin, making it impossible to cool the body. This can lead to overheating and serious illnesses such as heat stroke.

2. Deterioration of air quality. High humidity contributes to smog and increased allergens in the air. This can cause respiratory problems and worsen the condition of people with respiratory illnesses.

3. Increased risk of flooding. High humidity can lead to increased precipitation and higher water levels in rivers and lakes. This can cause flooding and infrastructure damage.

4. Impact on agriculture. High humidity can negatively affect crops, especially grain and fruit crops. This can lead to lower yields and higher food prices.

Historical data shows that wet-bulb temperatures are becoming increasingly high and extreme. For example, in 2020, Death Valley recorded a temperature of 54.4°C (130°F), which was the highest wet-bulb temperature in history. This shows that climate change has serious consequences and requires immediate action.

What can be done to cope with high humidity and heat?

Experts recommend the following measures:

– Stay hydrated at all times and drink plenty of water.
– Avoid physical activity outdoors during peak heat.
– Use air conditioners or fans to cool the room.
– Wear light and breathable clothing.
– Avoid alcohol and coffee, as they can increase dehydration.

High humidity makes the heat even more unbearable and dangerous. Climate change presents us with new challenges that require urgent action. We need to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the new conditions to ensure safety and comfort for all.

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