The deadly toll of Europe’s heatwaves: At least 70,000 people died across the continent because of hot weather in summer 2022 – including 3,855 in Britain
Scientists say that extreme heat waves in the summer of 2022 caused the deaths of at least 70,000 people.
This is 10 percent higher than previous estimates suggested.
Scientists from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health have raised their estimate of the death toll due to the 2022 heatwave from 62,862 to 70,066.
With heat-related deaths in the UK estimated at 3,496, a 10.28 per cent increase would take the true figure to 3,855 deaths over the summer.
The data also shows that the summer of 2022 was exceptionally deadly, with the number of deaths nearly doubling each year between 1998 and 2004.
Estimates of heat-related deaths in 2022 were 10 per cent underestimated with the new figure reaching 70,000 people across Europe, a new study has found.
With heat-related deaths in the UK estimated at 3,496, a 10.28 per cent increase would take the true figure to 3,855 deaths over the summer. Pictured: Bournemouth beach in June 2022
To calculate excess heat-related deaths, the researchers applied an epidemiological model to temperature and mortality data.
By comparing increases in deaths with heat intensity, scientists were able to come up with reasonably accurate numbers for the number of excess deaths caused by higher temperatures.
A previous study of weekly temperature data found that the abnormally hot month from mid-July to mid-August was responsible for 38,881 deaths in Europe.
In just one week between July 18 and 24, when temperatures were at their highest, scientists estimated there were 11,637 heat-related deaths.
However, this new research shows that aggregate data such as weekly numbers can underestimate the number of heat-related deaths.
The more time the data is collected, the more the results underestimate overall deaths, says lead researcher Joan Pallister-Claramont.
“In general, we don’t find models based on monthly aggregate data useful for estimating the short-term effects of ambient temperatures,” says Mr. Claramont.
The summer of 2022 was the hottest and deadliest on record in the UK, with a brief heatwave sending temperatures soaring to unprecedented levels of over 40°C (104°F).
Extreme temperatures in the UK peaked between July and August, along with a significant rise in heat-related deaths across Europe.
Between 1998 and 2004, models using weekly temperature data underestimated the number of heat-related deaths each year by 21.56 percent.
Likewise, when the researchers compared the estimates for Spain with weekly or daily data, they found that heat-related deaths in 2022 were underestimated by six percent.
However, Mr. Claramont points out that the difference between estimates tends to be smaller when temperature increases are maximum.
“It is important to note that the differences were very small during periods of extreme cold and heat, such as the summer of 2003, when the low estimate of the weekly data model was only 4.62%,” explains Mr. Claramont.
Firefighters work to contain a blaze in Bellin-Belette, as wildfires spread through the Gironde region in southwestern France in August 2022.
Temperatures have risen steadily in the UK over the past four decades, increasing the risk of heat-related deaths in the summer months.
Last summer was the hottest and deadliest on record in the UK, with temperatures peaking at more than 40°C (104°F) for the first time on record.
The Met Office reported that 2022 was particularly exceptional in a series of data spanning 250 years, as the country was hit by a “brief but unprecedented heatwave”.
Temperatures of up to 102 °F (39 °C) were recorded as far north as North Yorkshire as records were broken across the country for daily maximum and minimum temperatures.
Worryingly, experts note that, unlike the heatwaves of 2003, extreme weather in 2022 cannot be considered exceptional, and is in line with ongoing trends.
Study author Mr Claramont said at the time: “The temperatures recorded in the summer of 2022 cannot be considered exceptional, in the sense that they could have been predicted by following the temperature series of previous years, and they show that warming has accelerated over more than a year.” “. last decade.’
Recent research found that although the impacts on some extreme weather events have been overestimated, the association of climate change with heat waves was supported by unequivocal evidence.
Heatwaves are becoming more likely and more severe around the world, with human-caused climate change the most likely cause.
Overall, a heatwave that was previously 1 in 10 is now three times more likely to occur, peaking at temperatures about 1°C higher than they would have been without climate change.
What are the best ways to keep cool during a heatwave?
The NHS has a number of tips for keeping cool during bouts of unseasonably hot weather.
– Drink plenty of fluids
– Open windows or other ventilation openings throughout the house
– Shading or covering windows exposed to direct sunlight
– Plant plants indoors and outdoors to provide shade and help cool the air
– Turn off lights and unused electrical equipment
– Take a break if your house is too hot: Head to a nearby air-conditioned building such as a library or supermarket
(Tags for translation) Daily Mail