Severe Heat Killed More Than 70,000 in Europe Last Year, Scientists Estimate

Average temperature anomaly in 2022. Copernicus Climate Change Service / ECMWF
Average temperature anomaly in 2022. Copernicus Climate Change Service / ECMWF

Severe heat killed upwards of 70,000 people in Europe in the summer of 2022, according to a new study.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on temperature and mortality, recorded daily across 16 countries, to determine the number of deaths due to severe heat. A previous study from the same team, using weekly data, estimated that heat killed 62,862 Europeans last summer. The more granular, daily data allowed scientists to revise their estimate, finding that heat took 70,066 lives. The study was published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe.

Record heat was one of the main drivers of weather-related deaths in Europe last year, said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service. “Unfortunately this cannot be considered a one-off occurrence or an oddity of the climate,” he said.

Summer temperatures have already risen by more than 2 degrees C across much of Europe, the fastest-warming inhabited continent, and last summer was the hottest on record.

With climate change, “the temperatures recorded in the summer of 2022 cannot be considered exceptional,” said Joan Ballester Claramunt of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, lead author of the new study. “They could have been predicted.”

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