The maximum and minimum temperatures we see in the weather reports do not give the complete picture. Their data is based on conventional dry bulb thermometer readings.
In times of global warming and climate change, wet bulb temperature records will be more realistic. It tells us how habitable a place is for humans and factors in both temperature and humidity. It shows how important temperature and humidity are for the human body’s ability to cool itself.
High humidity combined with high temperatures severely weakens the body’s cooling mechanism. Simply put, the body cools itself by sweating. But water will not evaporate from the skin when the air humidity rises above a certain level.
A wet bulb temperature of 32 degrees Celsius is usually the maximum that the human body can tolerate and perform normal outdoor activities.
A wet bulb temperature of 32 degrees Celsius is usually the maximum that the human body can tolerate and perform normal outdoor activities. This equates to a dry temperature of 55 degrees Celsius.
A wet bulb temperature of 35 degrees can be life-threatening and can cause heatstroke and even death. It is known that many parts of India have experienced maximum tolerable wet bulb temperatures during peak summer. The term wet bulb comes from the way a measurement is made by wrapping a piece of wet cloth around the tip of the thermometer to see how much evaporation can lower the temperature.
Due to global warming, bodies of water are evaporating at a higher rate than before, increasing moisture in the atmosphere. Wet bulb temperature will be the new standard in assessing temperature and its impact on the human body.