July 11 (UPI) — More than 61,000 people died from excessive heat in Europe last summer, according to a new study by researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.
An estimated 61,672 deaths were attributed to excessive heat between May 30, 2022, and Sept. 4, 2022, as temperatures were hotter than average every week of the summer, according to the study published in Nature.
“The acceleration of warming observed over the last 10 years underlines the urgent need to reassess and substantially strengthen prevention plans, paying particular attention to the differences between European countries and regions, as well as the age and gender gaps, which currently mark the differences in vulnerability to heat,” Hicham Achebakt, study author and researcher at ISGlobal, said in a statement.
The study found that 38,881 heat-related deaths were recorded between July 11 and Aug. 14, the hottest period of the summer, which included a pan-European heatwave from July 18-24 that accounted for 11,637 deaths.
The Mediterranean region experienced the most deaths with Italy recording 18,010 deaths, while Spain had 11,324.
The study found that heat-attributable mortality was 63% higher in women than in men, and that a large majority of the deaths occurred among those over the age of 79.
The researchers compared the high death rate to the summer of 2003, which saw the greatest number of heat-related deaths to date with more than 70,000.
“The fact that more than 61,600 people in Europe died of heat stress in the summer of 2022, even though, unlike in 2003, many countries already had active prevention plans in place, suggests that the adaptation strategies currently available may still be insufficient,” Achebakt said.
The current summer appears to be continuing the trend as several days last week set a new record for hottest day ever recorded.
Data from the University of Maine showed the average global temperature reached 17.18 degrees Celsius, or 62.9 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meteorologists have warned that an El Nino event was likely to prolong extreme temperatures into the coming months, raising the potential for even more heat records.
“The onset of El Nino will greatly increase the likelihood of breaking temperature records and triggering more extreme heat in many parts of the world and in the ocean,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.