Over the weekend, Southeast Asia saw record-breaking temperatures as the region endures a heat wave that has plagued millions for weeks.
Vietnam, Laos, and Bangkok saw all-time high temperatures. The heat has been exacerbated by an intense fog season, which has raised pollution levels.
As the human-caused climate crisis worsens, scientists have long warned that heat waves will get worse.
According to meteorologist Maximiliano Herrera, the highest temperature ever recorded in Vietnam was 44.2 degrees Celsius (around 111.6 Fahrenheit) on Saturday in the northern district of Tuong Duong.
According to Herrera, the temperature in the city of Luang Prabang in neighboring Laos reached 43.5 degrees Celsius (110.3 Fahrenheit) on Saturday, surpassing the nation’s previous record of 42.7 degrees Celsius (108.9 Fahrenheit), which was set just one month prior.
This past weekend, Vientiane, the capital of Laos, also set a new record with a temperature of 42.5 degrees Celsius (108.5% Fahrenheit).
Meanwhile, in Thailand, the highest temperature ever recorded was 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 Fahrenheit) on Saturday in Bangkok.
Since the end of March, temperatures in the upper 30s to low 40s Celsius have plagued much of Thailand, including the capital. Herrera used data from the Thai Meteorological Department to say that in the middle of April, the northwest city of Tak became the first place in the country to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).
“Dangerous high temperatures in various parts of Thailand” prompted concern from Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha last month.
For South and Southeast Asia, April and May are typically the hottest months of the year because temperatures rise before the annual monsoon rains provide some relief.
Despite the fact that average temperatures are expected to return to the region in the coming days, unprecedented heat events are becoming more prevalent as the climate crisis worsens.
By the turn of the century, dangerous heat waves with temperatures above 39.4 degrees Celsius (103 degrees Fahrenheit) will occur between three and ten times more frequently, according to a 2022 study.
The study found that the number of days with “extremely dangerous heat”—defined as 51 degrees Celsius (124 Fahrenheit)—could double in the tropical regions that cover most of Asia, putting the population of affected nations at risk.
The study’s lead author, Lucas Vargas Zeppetello, from Harvard University, previously told CNN, “By definition, we don’t know what could happen if large populations are exposed to unprecedented heat and humidity stress.” However, heat waves in the past few decades have already been extremely deadly, and there is serious cause for concern in the future.