Weather: hot dome in France, tolerance threshold exceeded in Asia… can we really die from the heat?

With the unusual heatwaves that recently hit India and Pakistan and the heatwaves that hit France in May, we are interested in the tolerance threshold for humans. Dying from the heat, simple expression or real possibility?

The thermometer is no longer waiting for summer to come. In France, May 2022 is very hot. In particular, several temperature records were reached and the mercury exceeded 37 degrees in some places.

In Asia, the heat tolerance threshold for humans was even violated a few days ago. And the consequences have been dramatic: in the Indian state of Maharashtra, 25 people have died since March from the heat. In addition, heatwave-related deaths in India, which was the victim of the deadliest heatwaves in 2015 and 2019, have increased by more than 60% since 1980, according to India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences, as reported by our colleagues from the Huffington Post. What is meant: global warming and the “heat dome” phenomenon.

What is the hot dome phenomenon?

This is a phenomenon well-known to meteorologists, who are already responsible for significant heat waves, especially in Canada last July. This term is used when an anticyclone remains trapped in an area for a long time. “This is the case in France, with an anticyclone emerging from April and blocking hot air masses in the region”, details Alix Roumagnac, a meteorologist from Hérault.

This is a direct consequence of global warming. And it is the same phenomenon that is a problem in India and Pakistan

In addition, under the action of greenhouse gases, sunlight is more aggressive and the temperature rises faster.

Human homeothermic organisms

However, the human body is not capable of crossing certain limits. Homeothermic like most mammals, humans regulate their own body temperature thanks to the hypothalamus which keeps it below 35 degrees, recalls

If the body reaches 35°C, it may be too hot. This value takes into account humidity to measure our heat resistance, details The Huffington Post. The human body does not tolerate heat and humidity well..

A study of I’American Physiological Society published in January 2022 confirms this. The latter measures the ability of healthy young adults to perform simple tasks in six different extreme weather conditions. Several hours of experimentation revealed thatnone of the participants reached the 35°Tw threshold, the temperature threshold.

In some people, when this threshold is reached, especially the most fragile such as the elderly, the heart rate becomes faster, the skin becomes red and dry, nausea and vomiting, sometimes convulsions, loss of consciousness, or even coma. Without immediate treatment and cooling, death ensues.

A study by the University of Hawaii and published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcome in 2017 thus listed 27 physiological pathways by which humans can die from heat. Death can occur as a result of heart failure, brain damage or cell degradation.

And if you go to the sauna? Thanks to the evaporation of sweat, sweat ensures the constant internal temperature of the body. This mechanism is easy to adjust when the climate is dry. For example, you can go to a sauna at 100 ° C for 15 minutes without risk, specify RTL.

Serena Hoyles

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