In a recent international study led by Monash University in Australia, researchers find that If people cannot adapt to future climate temperatures, heatwave deaths will increase dramatically in tropical and subtropical regions.
The heatwave death will then increase in Australia, Europe, and the United States.
Recent media reports detailing deadly heatwaves around the world highlight the importance of the heatwave study.
Many countries around the world have been affected by severe heatwaves, leaving thousands dead and tens of thousands more suffering from heatstroke-related illnesses.
The collective death toll across India, Greece, Japan and Canada continues to rise as the regions swelter through record temperatures, humidity, and wildfires.
It’s thought heatwaves have been responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, including regions of Europe and Russia.
Recent research has shown that is it highly likely that there will be an increase in their frequency and severity under a changing climate, however, evidence about the impacts on mortality at a global scale is limited.
In the study, the researchers developed a model to estimate the number of deaths related to heatwaves in 412 communities across 20 countries for the period of 2031 to 2080.
The team found that under the extreme scenario, there will be a 471% increase in deaths caused by heatwaves in three Australian cities (Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne) in comparison with the period 1971-2010.
If the Australia government cannot put effort into reducing the impacts of heatwaves, more people will die because of heatwaves in the future.
The study projected excess mortality in relation to heatwaves in the future under different scenarios characterized by levels of greenhouse gas emissions, preparedness and adaption strategies and population density across these regions.
The team suggests it could dramatically increase heatwave-related mortality, especially in highly-populated tropical and sub-tropical countries.
The good news is that if people mitigate greenhouse gas emissions under scenarios that comply with the Paris Agreement, then the projected impact will be much reduced.
The researches hope the study’s projections would support decision makes in planning crucial adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change.
The study is the first global study to predict future heatwave-related deaths and aims to help decision-makers in planning adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change.
The lead author is Monash Associate Professor Yuming Guo. Associate Professor Antonio Gasparrini, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, is a study co-author.
The study is published in PLOS Medicine.
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