People living in southern European river basins and along the Mediterranean coasts will probably be hit hardest by future European heatwaves, suggests a study by NCCR Climate researchers just published online in Nature Geoscience Magazine.
Heatwaves and droughts are aided by increasing global deforestation and are appearing not just in Europe, but also on all other continents.
The record-breaking European heatwave in 2003 caused 70,000 excess deaths in Europe, and damage to agriculture and forests worth more than €13.1 billion. High temperatures are less damaging to health when the air is dry. But the models project that people in valleys and cities by the Mediterranean Sea will experience both heat and high humidity.
Some of the most densely populated European regions, such as the urban areas of Athens, Bucharest, Marseille, Milan, Rome und Naples, would experience the severest changes in health indicators. The health risk might even be underestimated, because current models do not represent the amplifying effects of urban heat islands.
The European Union provides a website detailing the dangers of heatwaves and how the public can respond to it.