Select Page

SOURCE: Inside Climate News

DATE: June 19, 2017

SNIP: Deadly heat waves—already a risk for 30 percent of the world’s population—will spread around the globe, posing a danger for 74 percent of people on Earth by the end of this century if nothing is done to address climate change, according to a new study.

Nearly as alarming, the researchers project that even if greenhouse gases are aggressively reduced, at least 48 percent of the population will still face deadly heat waves by 2100 because of the amount of long-lived heat-trapping gases that already have accumulated in the atmosphere.

We’re running out of good options for the future,” said lead author Camilo Mora, a biologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “For heat waves, our options are now between bad or terrible.”

A handful of deadly heat episodes have made headlines in recent decades, including the 2003 European heat wave that killed some 70,000 people, the 2010 heat wave in Russia that killed 10,000 people, and a 1995 Chicago heat wave that killed 700 people. But Mora and his team, in analyzing heat mortality episodes reported in peer-reviewed scientific literature between 1980 and 2014, found that deadly heat episodes are far more common and widespread than previously thought.

The researchers identified 911 papers with data on 1,949 case studies where human deaths were associated with high temperatures. They found that lethal heat waves had occurred in 164 cities across 36 countries. The team obtained climatic data for the times and locations of those episodes, including surface air temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, wind speed and several other metrics.

Deadly Heatwaves Tool: