May 1, 2018

Pakistan May Have Just Set a World Heat Record

Nawabshah, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sindh
Brian Kahn
The misery index is near the top of the charts in South Asia. Image: Earth wind map
The misery index is near the top of the charts in South Asia. Image: Earth wind map

High temperatures are forecast to reach the mid-80s this week in New York, and I’m dreading it. But I have a plan to stay cool: just thinking of how much hotter it is in Pakistan, which is in the middle of a blistering heat wave.

Temperatures reported to have cracked 50.2 degrees Celsius (122.3 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday in Nawabshah, located about 127 miles northeast of Karachi. If confirmed, that could make the measurement not just the hottest ever recorded for April in Pakistan, but the hottest ever reliably recorded for April anywhere on Earth.

“There was a 51.0°C reading reported from Santa Rosa, Mexico in April 2011 but this figure is considered of dubious reliability, so yes, the 50.2° reading is likely the hottest April temperature yet reliably observed on Earth in modern records,” Chris Burt, a weather historian, told Earther in an email.


According to Dawn, a regional news outlet, the heat caused people to pass out and forced “business activities came to a halt” in the district of 1.1 million. The same city hit 45.5 degrees Celsius (113.9 degrees Fahrenheit) in March, setting an all-time March record for Pakistan according to Capital Weather Gang.


The recent eye-popping temperatures in Pakistan fall in line with a growing body of research showing how climate change is making heat waves more common and intense nearly everywhere. This is particularly dire news for what’s already one of the hottest parts of the world. Research published last year, for instance, shows that climate change is adding to the death toll in India by making heat waves worse and “will lead to substantial increases in heat-related mortality” in the coming century.