Heat-related deaths rise by 30 percent in Europe due to extreme weather

Data published by two leading climate monitors this Monday says that Europe endured a record number of 'extreme heat stress' days in 2023, underscoring the threat of increasingly deadly summers across the continent.

In a year of contrasting extremes, Europe witnessed scorching heatwaves but also catastrophic flooding, withering droughts, violent storms and its largest wildfire.

According to the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service and the UN's World Meteorological Organization in a new joint report published this Monday, these disasters inflicted billions of dollars in damages and impacted more than two million people.

The consequences for health were particularly acute, with heat singled out by these agencies as the biggest climate-related threat as global warming drives ever-hotter European summers.

Thermal Climate Index

"We're seeing an increasing trend in the number of days with heat stress across Europe and 2023 was no exception, with Europe seeing a record number of days with extreme heat stress," said Rebecca Emerton, a climate scientist at Copernicus.

For this study, Copernicus and WMO used the Universal Thermal Climate Index, which measures the effect of the environment on the human body.

It takes into account not just high temperatures but also humidity, wind speed, sunshine, and heat emitted by the surroundings.

2023 was not the hottest summer in Europe – it was, in fact the fifth hottest – but that doesn't mean it wasn't blazing.

Read more on RFI English

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