Research highlight

Patterns in future health impacts from heatwaves

Nature Geoscience

May 17, 2010

People living in southern European river basins and along the Mediterranean coasts will probably be hit hardest by future European heatwaves, suggests a study published online this week in Nature Geoscience. The frequency of health-endangering heatwaves is projected to increase fastest and strongest in these locations, which include many densely populated urban centres.

Erich Fischer and Christoph Schaer analysed a set of regional climate projections for Europe to assess the likely occurrence of heatwaves with a high impact on human health, based on known factors such as heatwave duration, minimum night-time temperatures and humidity. The analysis reveals remarkably consistent geographical patterns of predicted heatwave impacts up to the year 2100, suggesting crucial influence from local topography and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea.

doi: 10.1038/ngeo866

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