An April global record temperature has been set in the city of Nawabshah, Pakistan. A maximum of 50.2 degrees Celsius (122.3 degrees Fahrenheit) was reported on Monday.
It was subsequently confirmed by the Pakistan Meteorological Department as the highest temperature recorded in the country in April.
Records extend back as far as the 1930s. (The previous Pakistan April record of 50.0C (122F) was set only the previous year.)
Nawabshah, with a population of 1.1 million, lies in Sindh province, around 180km to the northeast of Karachi.
It is a city with a history of extreme temperatures. Highs of 53C are sometimes recorded during May, ahead of the summer monsoon.
It was reported that the heat was “unbearable” and dozens of people collapsed with heatstroke.
The 50.2C was first mooted as a world record by Meteo France meteorologist Etienne Kapikan.
Although official confirmation may not come from the World Meteorological Organisation, respected climatologist Christopher Burt said that the Nawabshah reading was the highest temperature “yet reliably observed on Earth in modern times”.
A temperature of 51.0C (123.8F) was reported in Santa Rosa, Mexico in 2001, but doubt has been cast on the reliability of this reading.
This new record comes hard on the heels of a March record set in the same city. A reading of 45.5C (113.9F) was the highest March temperature recorded in Pakistan.
It is not just Pakistanis who have been feeling the heat. Indians too have experienced a warmer than usual run-up to the summer monsoon season.
A dome of high pressure has extended across much of South Asia, extending into Asian Russia. Records were set here, too.
For many areas, temperatures will continue to rise before the monsoon rains begin to cool things off. More records are likely to be broken across India and Pakistan during May, although another world record remains a low probability.
A study last year, analysing Indian weather data for the last 50 years, showed that mean temperatures had risen by 0.5C over the period, and there was a statistically significant increase in heatwaves.
With Ramadan approaching, there is every chance that, if this heat persists, mortality rates will be higher than normal, perhaps rivalling that of 2015, when at least 2,500 people died in India, and more than 2,000 in Pakistan.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies