More than 61,000 deaths attributable to heatwave were reported in Europe during the hottest summer ever recorded in 2022, a latest research showed on Monday.
The deaths occurred mainly due to an intense series of record-breaking heat waves, droughts and forest fires.
The European statistical office, Eurostat, earlier reported unusually high excess mortality for those dates, until now the fraction of mortality attributable to heat had not been quantified.
The researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health and France´s health research institute INSERM used models to predict the deaths attributable to temperature for each region in every week of 2022´s summer.
They estimated that 61,672 deaths were linked to the heat between May 30 and September 4 last year, according to the study published in the journal Nature Medicine.
“It is a very high number of deaths,” said Hicham Achebak, an INSERM researcher and study co-author.
“We knew the effect of heat on mortality after 2003, but with this analysis, we see that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to protect the population,” he told AFP.
More than 70,000 excess deaths were recorded in 2003 during one of the worst heatwaves in European history.
These data were used to estimate epidemiological models and predict temperature-attributable mortality for each region and week of the summer period.
The summer of 2022 was a season of unrelenting heat. Records show that temperatures were warmer-than-average during every week of the summer period.
The highest temperature anomalies were recorded during the hottest month, from mid-July to mid-August, according to the research.
“This coincidence magnified, according to the researchers, heat-related mortality, causing 38,881 deaths between 11 July and 14 August. Within that period of just over a month there was an intense pan-European heatwave between 18 and 24 July, to which a total of 11,637 deaths are attributed,” it added.