A newly released study concluded that killer heat waves might become a more common occurrence over the following years as the global average temperatures continue rising. According to the study, if climate changes will keep going on the same path, around three-quarters of humanity will have to face “lethal heat waves” on an annual basis.
“We found that killer heat waves around the world are becoming more common, and that this trend already seems unavoidable,” stated Camillo Mora, the study’s lead author.
Killer Heat Waves to Become Common by 2100
The research team collected climatic data for all known locations and times for any recorded heat-related death. According to Mora, the international study team identified over 1,900 locations around the world where heat waves have been the reported cause of death. These values go back to 1980.
After collecting this data, the team then compared it to “normal” climate periods. In doing so, they also tried to determine the key elements contributing to the excess mortality.
Study results pegged humidity and temperatures as the main culprits. High humidity is known to reduce the body’s ability to produce and cool via perspiration. As heat cannot be expelled from the body, it creates the so-called “heat cytotoxicity”.
The duration of the heat wave was also a key element. However, it did not help improve the predictive accuracy.
After obtaining this data, the scientists then plugged it into the average projection for 20 of the global climate models that span up until 2100.
These projections indicate that some 50 percent of the population will be exposed to killer heat waves on an annual basis by 2100. This value was calculated in the scenario in which nations also managed to outperform the Paris Climate Agreement targets.
Also, tests showed that around 30 percent of humanity already encounters such a super hot heat wave at least at one point in the year.
Research results are available in a paper in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Image Source: NASA Earth Observatory