According to new research conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the number of deaths attributed to heatwaves in cities is likely to increase as a result of the intensification of global warming.
“Our study looks to quantify the impact of increased heat waves on human mortality. For a major U.S. city like Chicago, the impact will likely be profound and potentially devastating,” said Roger Peng, PhD, lead author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. “We would expect the impact to be less severe with mitigation efforts including lowering CO2 emissions.”
The Johns Hopkins researchers developed three separate climate change scenarios based on seven global climate change models combined with mortality and air pollution data for the city of Chicago.
What they found was that in the last few decades of the 21st century the city of Chicago could experience anywhere between 166 and 2,217 excess deaths per year which could be directly attributed to the intensification of heatwaves as a result of a global climate warming.
The researchers also noted that this increase in deaths could not be attributed solely on the increase in population over the coming century.
“It’s very difficult to make predictions, but given what we know now—absent any form of adaptation or mitigation—our study shows that climate change will exacerbate the health impact of heat waves across a range of plausible future scenarios,” added Peng.