Extreme Heat: Study Reveals Worsening Impact on Big Cities

By Medscape Staff

October 05, 2021

The combined effects of population growth and rising temperatures have greatly increased how often people experience deadly temperatures in developing cities over the past 40 years.

What to know:

  • People in big cities today are exposed to potentially deadly temperatures three times more often than in the 1980s, according to a new study.

  • Researchers evaluated how many days per year temperatures in cities around the world hit a "wet bulb" temperature of 30°C (86°F) or more – which, due to high humidity, a person would feel as around 41°C (105.8°F).

  • Rising temperatures joined with growing populations have contributed to large increases in the number of people exposed to this kind of extreme heat, according to the study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • Although previous long-term changes in temperatures in individual cities have been difficult to track, researchers used data that combined observations from weather stations with bigger-picture satellite measurements to map daily maximum temperatures in individual cities over time.

  • Four of the top 10 cities with the biggest increases in heat exposure are in India; the others are concentrated in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

This is a summary of the article "Extreme heat is broiling people in developing cities" published by Science on October 4, 2021. The full article can be found on science.org.

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