jwz: Wet Bulb Temperature

July 1, 2021

jwz: Wet Bulb Temperature:

This should scare you. If it doesn’t, you don’t understand it yet and you need to re-read it until you get how bad this will get.

“Wet bulb” temperature is the temperature + relative humidity at which water stops evaporating off a “wet” thermometer bulb. If air is sufficiently humid (saturated w/ water vapor), evaporation will no longer cool the bulb, and it gets continuously hotter. […]
Dry air has essentially infinite capacity to absorb moisture, so, humans can survive in very high temps if the air is dry […] But, the wet bulb is not about heat, per se. It’s about the absorptive capacity of air. A wet bulb temperature in the mid-80s F can, and does, kill humans. Heat waves in the EU & Russia in 2003 and 2010 killed over a hundred thousand people at ~ 82 F. […]

If sweat won’t evaporate, our body temp rises, continuously. And when body temp hits ~108, we’re dead. For a vulnerable person in wet bulb temp, this takes much less than an hour. Naked. In the shade. […]

So, what does this have to do with you? Well, up until last ~ 40 years, wet bulb temperatures were extremely rare on this planet. But that’s over, now. We’re already seeing multiple wet bulb temperatures per year in multiple locations. By mid-century, parts of the Southeastern U.S will see weeks of wet bulbs every year.

Original thread – https://twitter.com/mateosfo/status/1409664424000950277

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