Days With Both Extreme Heat And Air Pollution In South Asia Are Becoming More Common


Texas A&M experts explain why this can't be a good thing for public health.

Days of extreme high heat and extreme air pollution are both increasing worldwide. Last November, New Delhi experienced a week of the worst air pollution in human history. The entire city shut down and planes couldn’t see well enough to land. Not long before that, Western Europe was slammed with two record-breaking heatwaves that caused the deaths of nearly 1,500 people.

Days of extreme heat and extreme pollution do not often overlap, but our two teams at Texas A&M wanted to see if the number of these double extreme days was increasing and explore what the health risks of that might be.

To test this, we used a computer model to look at the co-occurrence of extreme heat and extreme air pollution in South Asia. The model incorporated trends in greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions from industrial and residential sources, population growth, migration trends and even how air pollution is affected by weather, terrain and nearby oceans.

We predict that the frequency of days with both extreme heat and pollution – and the number of people that will be affected by those days – could massively increase by 2050.

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