Heatwaves claimed over 61,000 lives in Europe last year

Heatwaves claimed as many as 61,000 lives in Europe last year, according to a study published in a prominent science magazine.

“Globally, the last eight years have been the warmest on record, and 2022 was the fifth warmest year,” the study in Nature Medicine said on Monday, adding that “Europe emerges as a major climatic hotspot.”

According to the study, the summer of 2022 was the hottest season on record in Europe, characterized by an intense series of heat waves, which led to extremes in terms of temperature, drought, and fire activity.

“The Mediterranean is affected by desertification, heat waves are amplified during summer just because of these drier conditions,” the study said. It also underscored that Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain experienced the highest death rate according to population size.

As such, it indicated, Italy, Spain, and Germany witnessed the most lives lost due to the heat, with 18,010, 11,324, and 8,173 deaths respectively.

The study warned that warming in Europe since preindustrial levels is almost 1 °C higher than the corresponding global increase and higher than in any other continent. 

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