Europe heatwave deaths could skyrocket

  • Europe heatwave deaths could skyrocket

Europe heatwave deaths could skyrocket

The number of deaths caused by flooding in coastal areas could rise to hundreds every year, compared to just a handful in past years.

Heatwaves, cold snaps, wildfires, windstorms, river and coastal floods and droughts were named the most risky types of weather-related events.

Researchers found that around two-thirds of Europe's population are likely to feel the effects of extreme weather by 2100, a huge increase from around 5 percent up to 2010.

Nearly all of the projected deaths are expected to come from heat waves, particularly in southern Europe.

Heat waves, floods, storms and other extreme events could make 152 000 deaths per year in Europe by the end of the century, compared to around 3 000 per year now, mainly because of global warming, warning a study Saturday.

"Unless global warming is curbed as a matter of urgency and appropriate adaptation measures are taken, about 350 million Europeans could be exposed to harmful climate extremes on an annual basis by the end of this century", the report said.

These were heat waves, cold snaps, wildfires, droughts and wind storms, as well as river and coastal floods.

Southern Europe is likely to be more affected than the Northern one, with a number of dead climbing to 700 per million people every year at the end of the century, against 11 at the beginning. The other 10 per cent will be due to simple population growth, as well as migration into weather-disaster-prone areas. The predictions, based on an assumption of no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and no improvement in policies to reduce the impact of extreme climatic events, show European weather-related deaths rising from 3,000 a year between 1981 and 2010 to 152,000 a year between 2071 and 2100.

Exposure means anything from disease, injury and death due to an extreme weather event, to losing a home or "post-event stress", the authors said.

If you are still not able to imagine such a disaster, consider this: According to the researchers, 99 per cent of future weather-related deaths will be because of heat waves.

The team looked at disaster records from 1981 to 2010 to estimate population vulnerability, then combined this with modelling of how climate change might progress and how populations might increase and migrate.

However, the study did not take into consideration advances that are like to be made in medical technology by the end of the century, said Sean Sublette, a meteorologist at the nonprofit Climate Central, who did not participate in the study.