Summer 2022 heatwaves killed 61,000 people in Europe

Summer 2022 heatwaves killed 61,000 people in Europe

Madrid, Spain, throughout a heatwave on 2 August 2022

THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Pictures

Over 61,000 individuals are estimated to have died on account of the heatwaves that swept throughout Europe final yr, and with out efforts to defend essentially the most weak we would see an analogous toll this yr.

Summer season 2022 was the most well liked season on document in Europe, with temperatures reaching new extremes across the continent, particularly in western and central areas. Europe additionally noticed excessive ranges of extra deaths over this time, however precisely what number of have been because of the warmth was unclear.

“Excessive warmth is among the most dangerous pure hazards,” says Vikki Thompson on the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, as a result of it exacerbates pre-existing cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.

Joan Ballester on the Barcelona Institute for International Well being in Spain and his colleagues investigated this hyperlink by wanting on the variety of deaths logged by the European statistical workplace Eurostat for 35 European nations, together with temperature information.

The crew discovered that between 30 Could and 4 September final yr, 61,672 deaths have been associated to warmth – with the most important numbers in Italy, Spain, Germany and France. After adjusting for inhabitants measurement, the crew discovered that heat-related deaths have been disproportionately excessive in Mediterranean nations together with Spain, Italy and Greece.

“Although the temperature anomalies have been the identical in France and in Spain, the mortalities have been radically totally different,” says Ballester. “This can be partly because of socioeconomic components.”

Ballester hopes this research will elevate extra consciousness of the lethal results of warmth. With 2023 already shaping as much as be one of many hottest years on document, we would count on comparable extra deaths this yr, although Ballester declined to make a particular prediction. “Given the identical vulnerability, we are able to count on a given variety of heat-related deaths,” he says.

“Occasions like this are prone to change into extra widespread and extreme, thus preparedness must be improved to cut back avoidable deaths, minimise the financial impacts of future heatwaves and defend essentially the most weak from the worst of the results,” says Candice Howarth on the London College of Economics, who wasn’t concerned within the research.

Thompson, who additionally wasn’t concerned, expresses an analogous opinion. “Happily, impacts of warmth on human well being could be diminished by means of schooling and coverage adjustments. The annual heat-related mortality numbers on this research present that that is already occurring – though 2022 was the most well liked European summer season on document, deaths have been decrease than in [the heatwave of] 2003,” she says.


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