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Hot weather is getting deadlier due to climate change

Hot weather is getting deadlier due to climate change Hot weather is getting deadlier due to climate change
Clarence Schmidt | 21 June, 2017, 01:25

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, analyzed more than 1,900 cases of fatalities associated with heatwaves in 36 countries over the past four decades.

"I don't know why we as a society are not more concerned about the dangers", said Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii in Manoa, the study's lead author, according to National Geographic.

Professor Mora wrote immediate action on greenhouse emissions must be taken to prevent the earth's killer heat becoming a reality. Countries along the equator will be hardest-hit in all scenarios.

But the most serious risks will be in tropical areas, where temperatures are already closer to the danger threshold and where heat can last more of the year, rather than just during the summer, researchers said.

The climate is changing so quickly it is unlikely that humans would be able to evolve better resistance to high temperatures, the researchers added. And those that can't afford it are likely to get worse heat in the future.

"Study after study finds discernible fingerprints of climate change in contemporary heat waves", Shepherd said.

An global team of researchers, led by Mora and the University of Hawaii at Manoa, analyzed hundreds of historic heat waves to quantify what weather conditions posed the greatest risk of death in humans.

By analysing the climatic conditions of 783 lethal heat episodes for which datas were obtained, researchers identified a threshold beyond which temperatures and humidities become deadly. "The problem with humidity is that is makes lower temperatures lethal", Mora said.

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According to the study, because areas in the tropics "have higher year-round warm temperatures and higher humidity", they require "less warming to cross the deadly threshold".

The study projects three scenarios for heat waves between 2090 and 2100, depending on different levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

Hyperthermia, the scientific term for high body temperature, can occur both indoors and outdoors. At the moment, 30% of the population is exposed to potentially lethal heat for 20 days a year or more.

Under even the most stringent cuts to emissions - cuts that are virtually unfeasible at present - that proportion would increase to half by 2100. But if greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow, that number could jump up to 74 percent by 2100. Cities with deadly heat waves range from New York City and Los Angeles to London and Toronto, and as far as Tokyo and Beijing. The increase in deadly heat days for various cities can be seen in an interactive map the researchers put together.

Specifically, if no serious action is taken to drawdown the planet's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, then almost three-quarters of the world's population will experience life-threatening heatwaves by 2100. President Donald Trump recently announced he would be pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement.

A hotter world doesn't necessarily mean more deaths in all locales, Mora said. "You either jump from the 4th floor or you jump from the 8th floor", he said.

Caldwell: We predict that people living in the tropics will experience more frequent and more severe deadly heat than the rest of the world. However, heat can be deadly even at moderate temperatures of less than 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) if it's combined with very high humidity, Mora ays.

This is the grim picture painted by a new study, which also discovered that up to three in four individuals will be exposed to death risks from heat by 2100 if there will be no dramatic reductions in emissions of Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.


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