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Rapidly increasing likelihood of exceeding 45-50°C and heat-related deaths in the Mediterranean and Middle East

With climate change, the likelihood of extremely hot days, associated with excess mortality, is increasing rapidly. In parts of the Mediterranean and Middle East, temperatures above 45-50°C are more likely than in pre-industrial times, and could be experienced every year in the hotter locations by the end of the century. The region may face several additional weeks with risks for heat-related fatalities by 2100, which stresses the need for effective adaptation planning.

According to a recent study published in Nature Climate and Atmospheric Science, in the hottest of 12 selected locations in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, maximum daily temperatures above 50°C are becoming 10 to 1000 times more likely than in pre-industrial times, and by the end of the century such extremes could occur every year in the hotter locations due to human influence. Even in cooler locations in the regions, like Spain and Turkey, air temperatures above 45°C are becoming more common and could occur at least once a decade by 2100 in places where they would occur rarely in a natural world. Extremely high temperatures cause heat stress and may lead to excess mortality, reduced mental health and increased risks for several vulnerable groups. All selected locations in the region may see 30-60 additional days where excess heat-related fatalities are expected to occur by 2100 due to temperature rise only. Probabilities are estimated under a medium emission scenario that recognises global adaptation and mitigation efforts (SSP2 4.5). The increasing risk of population exposure to unprecedented temperatures call for urgent action and socio-economic resilience measures to ensure high-risk areas remain inhabitable and safe for workers.

 

Date: 21 Aug 2023