The high temperature that was recorded on Tuesday in Arizona was so severe that it kept planes grounded
Phoenix was thought to reach a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, being close to a record for the desert city, while also hot enough that small planes were not able to generate enough lift to fly. So far, Phoenix and other cities have experienced similar situations, but only rarely, at least for now.
Fortunately, passengers who were stuck at the ground had the chance to sit inside an air-conditioned terminal. However, in other parts of the world where temperatures are set to soar above 100 degrees this summer, heat waves are likely to result in more deadly consequences.
At the moment, one-third of the world’s population experiences more than 20 days of deadly heat a year. Unfortunately, this number is expected to rise to at least 50% by 2100. Moreover, if carbon emissions continue unabated, dangerous heat waves could strike three-fourths of the global population.
Researchers took a close look at heat waves from 1980 to 2014 and found a threshold past which suggest that conditions of heat and humidity can lead to death. Matching their findings with climate predictions for the following 80 years, they say that heat-related deaths will become more common.
For example, a week of tremendously high temperatures in July 1995 killed somewhere around 700 people in Chicago. However, recent events were more tragic: the 2003 European heat wave killed and estimated 20,000 people across the continent, even though the number could be as high as 70,000. Furthermore, in 2010, heat in Russia killed 10,000 people, mostly because of air pollution that resulted from wildfires.
Another very important factor to be taken into consideration is humidity. When the air is saturated with water, our sweat does not dry as quickly, which robs our body of its primary means of heat dissipation. As soon as humidity reaches 100%, temperatures below 100 degrees can be deadly. Adding this to their analysis, researchers estimate that many areas around the equator could see near-constant deadly temperatures by 2100.