Heat wave

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High pressure in the upper atmosphere traps heat near the ground, forming a heat wave

A heat wave, or heatwave,[1] or extreme heat, is a period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity, especially in oceanic climate countries. While definitions vary,[2] a heat wave is usually measured relative to the usual climate in the area and relative to normal temperatures for the season. Temperatures that people from a hotter climate consider normal can be called a heat wave in a cooler area if they are outside the normal climate pattern for that area.[3]

The term is applied both to hot weather variations and to extraordinary spells of hot weather which may occur only once a century. Severe heat waves have caused catastrophic crop failures, thousands of deaths from hyperthermia, increased risk of wildfires in areas with drought, and widespread power outages due to increased use of air conditioning. A heat wave is considered extreme weather, and poses danger to human health because heat and sunlight overwhelm the human body's cooling system. Heat waves can usually be detected using forecasting instruments so that a warning can be issued.

Heatwaves often have complex effects on human economies, due to less productivity of workers, disruption of agricultural and industrial processes and damage to infrastructure not adapted for extreme heat.[4][5]

Heatwaves have become more frequent, and over land more intense, almost everywhere since the 1950s, due to climate change.[6]


There are several quite similar definitions of heat waves:

  • The IPCC defines heat wave as "a period of abnormally hot weather, often defined with reference to a relative temperature threshold, lasting from two days to months."[7]: 2911 
  • A definition based on the Heat Wave Duration Index is that a heat wave occurs when the daily maximum temperature of more than five consecutive days exceeds the average maximum temperature by 5 °C (9 °F), the normal period being 1961–1990.[8] The same definition is used by the World Meteorological Organization.[9]
  • A definition from the Glossary of Meteorology is:[10] "A period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot and usually humid weather."
Temperature anomalies, March to May 2007

Definitions by country[edit]


In the Netherlands, a heat wave is defined as a period of at least five consecutive days in which the maximum temperature in De Bilt exceeds 25 °C (77 °F), provided that on at least three days in this period the maximum temperature in De Bilt exceeds 30 °C (86 °F). This definition of a heat wave is also used in Belgium (with Ukkel as reference point) and Luxembourg.

In Denmark, a national heat wave (hedebølge) is defined as a period of at least 3 consecutive days of which period the average maximum temperature across more than fifty percent of the country exceeds 28 °C (82.4 °F) – the Danish Meteorological Institute further defines a "warmth wave" (varmebølge) when the same criteria are met for a 25 °C (77.0 °F) temperature,[11] while in Sweden, a heat wave is defined as at least five days in a row with a daily high exceeding 25 °C (77.0 °F).[12]

In Greece, according to the Hellenic National Metereological Service, a heat wave is defined as three consecutive days at or above 39 °C (102 °F) and a minimum temperature in the same period at or over 26 °C (79 °F), with no winds or with weak winds, and the above conditions being observed in a broad area.

In the United Kingdom, the Met Office operates a Heat Health Watch system which places each Local Authority region into one of four levels. Heatwave conditions are defined by the maximum daytime temperature and minimum nighttime temperature rising above the threshold for a particular region. The length of time spent above that threshold determines the particular level. Level 1 is normal summer conditions. Level 2 is reached when there is a 60% or higher risk that the temperature will be above the threshold levels for two days and the intervening night. Level 3 is triggered when the temperature has been above the threshold for the preceding day and night, and there is a 90% or higher chance that it will stay above the threshold in the following day. Level 4 is triggered if conditions are more severe than those of the preceding three levels. Each of the first three levels is associated with a particular state of readiness and response by the social and health services, and Level 4 is associated with more widespread response.[13]

Other regions[edit]

In the United States, definitions also vary by region, usually meaning a period of at least two or more days of excessively hot weather.[14] In the Northeast, a heat wave is typically defined as three consecutive days where the temperature reaches or exceeds 90 °F (32.2 °C), but not always as this ties in with humidity levels to determine a heat index threshold.[15] The same does not apply to drier climates. A heat storm is a Californian term for an extended heat wave.[citation needed] Heat storms occur when the temperature reaches 100 °F (37.8 °C) for three or more consecutive days over a wide area (tens of thousands of square miles).[citation needed] The National Weather Service issues heat advisories and excessive heat warnings when unusual periods of hot weather are expected.

In Adelaide, South Australia, a heat wave is defined as five consecutive days at or above 35 °C (95 °F), or three consecutive days at or over 40 °C (104 °F).[16] The Australian Bureau of Meteorology defines a heat wave as "three days or more of maximum and minimum temperatures that are unusual for the location".[17] Until the introduction of this new Pilot Heatwave Forecast there was no national definition that described heatwave or measures of heatwave severity.[17]


A general indicator that allows comparing heat waves in different regions of the World, characterized by different climates, was published in 2015.[18] This was used to estimate heat waves occurrence at the global scale from 1901 to 2010, finding a substantial and sharp increase in the number of affected areas in the last two decades.[19]

June 2019 was the hottest month on record worldwide, the effects of this were especially prominent in Europe.[20] Increased wildfires in places such as Spain can also be attributed to heat waves.[21]

The 2021 Western North America heat wave resulted in some of the highest temperatures ever recorded in the region, including 49.6 °C (121.3 °F), the highest temperature ever measured in Canada.[22]

A study that investigated 13,115 cities found that extreme heat exposure of a wet bulb globe temperature above 30 °C tripled between 1983 and 2016. It increased by ~50% when the population growth in these cities is not taken into account. Urban areas and living spaces are often significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas, partly due to the urban heat island effect. The researchers compiled a comprehensive inventory of past urban extreme heat events.[23][24]


Animation showing heat waves from 1901 to 2010

Heat waves form when high pressure aloft (from 10,000–25,000 feet (3,000–7,600 metres)) strengthens and remains over a region for several days up to several weeks.[25] This is common in summer (in both Northern and Southern Hemispheres) as the jet stream 'follows the sun'. On the equator side of the jet stream, in the upper layers of the atmosphere, is the high pressure area.

Summertime weather patterns are generally slower to change than in winter. As a result, this upper level high pressure also moves slowly. Under high pressure, the air subsides (sinks) toward the surface, warming and drying adiabatically, inhibiting convection and preventing the formation of clouds. Reduction of clouds increases shortwave radiation reaching the surface. A low pressure at the surface leads to surface wind from lower latitudes that brings warm air, enhancing the warming. Alternatively, the surface winds could blow from the hot continental interior towards the coastal zone, leading to heat waves there, or from a high elevation towards low elevation, enhancing the subsidence and therefore the adiabatic warming.[26] [27]

In the Eastern United States a heat wave can occur when a high pressure system originating in the Gulf of Mexico becomes stationary just off the Atlantic Seaboard (typically known as a Bermuda High). Hot humid air masses form over the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea while hot dry air masses form over the desert Southwest and northern Mexico. The SW winds on the back side of the High continue to pump hot, humid Gulf air northeastward resulting in a spell of hot and humid weather for much of the Eastern States.[28]

In the Western Cape Province of South Africa, a heat wave can occur when a low pressure offshore and high pressure inland air combine to form a Bergwind. The air warms as it descends from the Karoo interior, and the temperature will rise about 10 °C from the interior to the coast. Humidities are usually very low, and the temperatures can be over 40 °C in summer. The highest official temperatures recorded in South Africa (51.5 °C) was recorded one summer during a bergwind occurring along the Eastern Cape coastline.[29][30]

The role of soil moisture can also contribute to the intensification of heat waves in Europe.[31][32] Low soil moisture leads to a number of complex feedback mechanisms, which can in turn result in increased surface temperatures. One of the main mechanisms is reduced evaporative cooling of the atmosphere.[31] When water evaporates, it consumes energy and thus will lower the surrounding temperature. If the soil is very dry, then incoming radiation from the sun will warm the air with little or no cooling effect from moisture evaporating from the soil.

Climate change[edit]

Large increases in both the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events (for increasing degrees of global warming) are expected.[33]: 18 
Map of increasing heatwave trends (frequency and cumulative intensity) over the midlatitudes and Europe, July–August 1979–2020.[34]

Climate change will lead to more very hot days and fewer very cold days.[35]: 5  The frequency, length and intensity of heat waves will very likely increase over most land areas.[35]: 5  Higher growth in greenhouse gas emissions would cause more frequent and severe temperature extremes.[36]: 111  Globally, cold waves have decreased in frequency.[33]: 8 

Heatwaves over land have become more frequent and more intense since the 1950s due to climate change in almost all world regions. Furthermore, heat waves are more likely to occur simultaneously with droughts. Marine heatwaves have also increased in frequency, with a doubling since 1980.[37] The intensity of individual heat waves can often be attributed to global warming. Some extreme events would have been nearly impossible without human influence on the climate system. A heatwave that would occur once every ten years before global warming started, now occurs 2.8 times as often. Under further warming, heatwaves are set to become more frequent. An event that would occur each ten year, would occur every other year if global warming reaches 2 °C.[38]

Heat waves are events where the daily maximum temperature exceeds the average maximum temperature by 5 °C (9 °F) for more than five consecutive days.[39] In the last 30–40 years (prior to 2018), heat waves with high humidity have become more frequent and severe. Extremely hot nights have doubled in frequency. The area in which extremely hot summers are observed has increased 50–100 fold. Heat waves with high humidity pose a big risk to human health while heat waves with low humidity lead to dry conditions that increase wildfires. The mortality from extreme heat is larger than the mortality from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes together.[40]

It was estimated in 2013 that global warming had increased the probability of local record-breaking monthly temperatures worldwide by a factor of 5.[41] This was compared to a baseline climate in which no global warming had occurred. Using a medium global warming scenario, they project that by 2040, the number of monthly heat records globally could be more than 12 times greater than that of a scenario with no long-term warming.

Study results indicate that limiting global warming to 1.5 °C would prevent most of the tropics from reaching the wet-bulb temperature of the human physiological limit of 35 °C.[42][43]

There is some evidence climate change leads to a weakening of the polar vortex, which would make the jet stream more wavy.[44] This would lead to outbursts of very cold winter weather across parts of Eurasia[45] and North America, as well as very warm air incursions into the Arctic.[46][47][48]

Impacts on human health[edit]

Heat-related health impacts for vulnerable people[edit]

Heat illness is a spectrum of disorders due to increased body temperature. It can be caused by either environmental conditions or by exertion. It includes minor conditions such as heat cramps, heat syncope, and heat exhaustion as well as the more severe condition known as heat stroke.[49] It can affect any or all anatomical systems.[50] Heat illnesses include:[51][52] Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, heat edema, heat cramps, heat rash, heat tetany.

Prevention includes avoiding medications that can increase the risk of heat illness, gradual adjustment to heat, and sufficient fluids and electrolytes.[53][54]

Climate change increases the frequency and severity of heatwaves and thus heat stress for people. The human response to heat stress can be hyperthermia, heat stroke and other harmful effects. Heat illness can relate to many of the organs and systems including: brain, heart, kidneys, liver, etc.[55] Heat waves have also resulted in epidemics of chronic kidney disease (CKD).[56][57] Prolonged heat exposure, physical exertion, and dehydration are sufficient factors to developing CKD.[56][57]

The risk of dying from chronic lung disease during a heat wave has been estimated at 1.8-8.2% higher compared to average summer temperatures.[58] Bodily stress from heat also causes fluid loss, which disrupts pulmonary perfusion. In combination with higher pollutant concentrations, this leads to bronchial inflammation.[citation needed] It people with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), increased indoor temperatures may result in worsening breathlessness, cough, and sputum production.[citation needed] In addition, an 8% increase in hospitalization rate for people with COPD has been estimated for every 1 °C increase in temperatures above 29 °C.[59]

The human body requires evaporative cooling to prevent overheating, even with a low activity level. With excessive ambient heat and humidity during heatwaves, adequate evaporative cooling might be compromised. A sustained wet-bulb temperature exceeding 35 °C (95 °F) is a threshold at which the resilience of human systems is no longer able to adequately cool the skin.[60][61] One study has concluded that even young, healthy people may be unable to maintain their core temperature within survivable limits at wet bulb temperatures above 31 °C.[62]

As of 2020, only two weather stations had recorded 35 °C wet-bulb temperatures, and only very briefly, but the frequency and duration of these events is expected to rise with ongoing climate change.[63][64][65]

Elderly populations and those with co-morbidities are at a significantly increased health risk from increased heat.[59] Exposure to extreme heat "poses an acute health hazard, with individuals older than 65 years, populations in urban environments, and people with health conditions being particularly at risk".[66]

Global warming is projected to substantially erode sleep worldwide, especially for residents from lower-income countries.[67] The greatest increases of ambient temperatures were recorded at night.[68][69]

People with cognitive health issues (e.g. depression, dementia, Parkinson's disease) are more at risk when faced with high temperatures and "need to take extra care"[70] as cognitive performance has been shown to be differentially affected by heat.[71] People with diabetes, are overweight, have sleep deprivation, or have cardiovascular/cerebrovascular conditions should avoid too much heat exposure.[70][72]
Illustration of urban heat exposure via a temperature distribution map: blue shows cool temperatures, red warm, and white hot areas.


Health experts warn that "exposure to extreme heat increases the risk of death from cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and respiratory conditions and all-cause mortality. Heat-related deaths in people older than 65 years reached a record high of an estimated 345 000 deaths in 2019".[66]: 9 

More than 70,000 Europeans died as a result of the 2003 European heat wave.[73] Also more than 2,000 people died in Karachi, Pakistan in June 2015 due to a severe heat wave with temperatures as high as 49 °C (120 °F).[74][75] Estimates from 2020 found that more than 1300 people die in the United States every year as a result of extreme heat.[76]

Increasing access to indoor cooling (air conditioning) will help prevent heat-related mortality but current air conditioning technology is generally unsustainable as it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, peak electricity demand, and urban heat islands.[66]: 17 

Mortality due to heat waves could be reduced if buildings were better designed to modify the internal climate, or if the occupants were better educated about the issues, so they can take action in time.[77][78]

Underreporting of fatalities[edit]

The number of heat fatalities is likely highly underreported due to a lack of reports and misreports.[79] When factoring in heat-related illnesses, actual death tolls linked to extreme heat may be six times as high as official figures, as suggested for California[80] and Japan.[81]

Part of the mortality observed during a heat wave can be attributed to short-term forward mortality displacement. It has been observed that for some heat waves, there is a compensatory decrease in overall mortality during the subsequent weeks after a heat wave. Such compensatory reductions in mortality suggest that heat affects especially those so ill that they "would have died in the short term anyway".[82]

Another explanation for underreporting is the social attenuation in most contexts of heat waves as a health risk. As shown by the deadly French heat wave in 2003, heat wave dangers result from the intricate association of natural and social factors.[83] Social invisibility is one such factor. In places where heat-related deaths often occur indoors, among elderly people living alone, it can be challenging to assign heat as a contributing factor.[84]

Heat index for temperature and relative humidity[edit]

NOAA national weather service: heat index
Relative humidity
80 °F (27 °C) 82 °F (28 °C) 84 °F (29 °C) 86 °F (30 °C) 88 °F (31 °C) 90 °F (32 °C) 92 °F (33 °C) 94 °F (34 °C) 96 °F (36 °C) 98 °F (37 °C) 100 °F (38 °C) 102 °F (39 °C) 104 °F (40 °C) 106 °F (41 °C) 108 °F (42 °C) 110 °F (43 °C)
40% 80 °F (27 °C) 81 °F (27 °C) 83 °F (28 °C) 85 °F (29 °C) 88 °F (31 °C) 91 °F (33 °C) 94 °F (34 °C) 97 °F (36 °C) 101 °F (38 °C) 105 °F (41 °C) 109 °F (43 °C) 114 °F (46 °C) 119 °F (48 °C) 124 °F (51 °C) 130 °F (54 °C) 136 °F (58 °C)
45% 80 °F (27 °C) 82 °F (28 °C) 84 °F (29 °C) 87 °F (31 °C) 89 °F (32 °C) 93 °F (34 °C) 96 °F (36 °C) 100 °F (38 °C) 104 °F (40 °C) 109 °F (43 °C) 114 °F (46 °C) 119 °F (48 °C) 124 °F (51 °C) 130 °F (54 °C) 137 °F (58 °C)
50% 81 °F (27 °C) 83 °F (28 °C) 85 °F (29 °C) 88 °F (31 °C) 91 °F (33 °C) 95 °F (35 °C) 99 °F (37 °C) 103 °F (39 °C) 108 °F (42 °C) 113 °F (45 °C) 118 °F (48 °C) 124 °F (51 °C) 131 °F (55 °C) 137 °F (58 °C)
55% 81 °F (27 °C) 84 °F (29 °C) 86 °F (30 °C) 89 °F (32 °C) 93 °F (34 °C) 97 °F (36 °C) 101 °F (38 °C) 106 °F (41 °C) 112 °F (44 °C) 117 °F (47 °C) 124 °F (51 °C) 130 °F (54 °C) 137 °F (58 °C)
60% 82 °F (28 °C) 84 °F (29 °C) 88 °F (31 °C) 91 °F (33 °C) 95 °F (35 °C) 100 °F (38 °C) 105 °F (41 °C) 110 °F (43 °C) 116 °F (47 °C) 123 °F (51 °C) 129 °F (54 °C) 137 °F (58 °C)
65% 82 °F (28 °C) 85 °F (29 °C) 89 °F (32 °C) 93 °F (34 °C) 98 °F (37 °C) 103 °F (39 °C) 108 °F (42 °C) 114 °F (46 °C) 121 °F (49 °C) 128 °F (53 °C) 136 °F (58 °C)
70% 83 °F (28 °C) 86 °F (30 °C) 90 °F (32 °C) 95 °F (35 °C) 100 °F (38 °C) 105 °F (41 °C) 112 °F (44 °C) 119 °F (48 °C) 126 °F (52 °C) 134 °F (57 °C)
75% 84 °F (29 °C) 88 °F (31 °C) 92 °F (33 °C) 97 °F (36 °C) 103 °F (39 °C) 109 °F (43 °C) 116 °F (47 °C) 124 °F (51 °C) 132 °F (56 °C)
80% 84 °F (29 °C) 89 °F (32 °C) 94 °F (34 °C) 100 °F (38 °C) 106 °F (41 °C) 113 °F (45 °C) 121 °F (49 °C) 129 °F (54 °C)
85% 85 °F (29 °C) 90 °F (32 °C) 96 °F (36 °C) 102 °F (39 °C) 110 °F (43 °C) 117 °F (47 °C) 126 °F (52 °C) 135 °F (57 °C)
90% 86 °F (30 °C) 91 °F (33 °C) 98 °F (37 °C) 105 °F (41 °C) 113 °F (45 °C) 122 °F (50 °C) 131 °F (55 °C)
95% 86 °F (30 °C) 93 °F (34 °C) 100 °F (38 °C) 108 °F (42 °C) 117 °F (47 °C) 127 °F (53 °C)
100% 87 °F (31 °C) 95 °F (35 °C) 103 °F (39 °C) 112 °F (44 °C) 121 °F (49 °C) 132 °F (56 °C)
Key to colors:   Caution   Extreme caution   Danger   Extreme danger

The heat index (as shown in the table above) is a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored with the actual air temperature.

Psychological and sociological effects[edit]

In addition to physical stress, excessive heat causes psychological stress, to a degree which affects performance, and is also associated with an increase in violent crime.[85] High temperatures are associated with increased conflict both at the interpersonal level and at the societal level. In every society, crime rates go up when temperatures go up, particularly violent crimes such as assault, murder, and rape. Furthermore, in politically unstable countries, high temperatures are an aggravating factor that lead toward civil wars.[86]

Additionally, high temperatures have a significant effect on income. A study of counties in the United States found that economic productivity of individual days declines by about 1.7% for each degree Celsius above 15 °C (59 °F).[87]

Surface ozone (air pollution)[edit]

Ozone pollution in urban areas is especially concerning with increasing temperatures, raising heat-related mortality during heat waves.[88] During heat waves in urban areas, ground level ozone pollution can be 20% higher than usual.[89] 

One study concluded that from 1860 to 2000, the global population-weighted fine particle concentrations increased by 5% and near-surface ozone concentrations by 2% due to climate change.[90]

An investigation to assess the joint mortality effects of ozone and heat during the European heat waves in 2003, concluded that these appear to be additive.[91]

Other impacts[edit]

Reduced GDP[edit]

Calculations from 2022 suggest heatwaves will cause ~1% decrease of GDP to economies by mid 21st century.[92][93][94]

Heatwaves often have complex effects on human economies, due to less productivity of workers, disruption of agricultural and industrial processes and damage to infrastructure not adapted for extreme heat.[4][5]

Reduced agricultural yields[edit]

Heat waves significantly threaten agricultural production. In 2019, heat waves in the Mulanje region of Malawi involved temperatures as high as 40 °C (104 °F). This and a late rain season resulted in significant tea leaf scorching and reduced yields.[95]


If a heat wave occurs during a drought, which dries out vegetation, it can contribute to bushfires and wildfires. During the disastrous heat wave that struck Europe in 2003, fires raged through Portugal, destroying over 3,010 square kilometres (1,160 sq mi) or 301,000 hectares (740,000 acres) of forest and 440 square kilometres (170 sq mi) or 44,000 hectares (110,000 acres) of agricultural land and causing an estimated 1 billion worth of damage.[96] High end farmlands have irrigation systems to back up crops with. Heat waves cause wildfires.


Heat waves can also contribute to severe flooding. The record-breaking heat wave that afflicted Pakistan beginning in May 2022 led to glacier melt and moisture flow, which were factors in the devastating floods that began in June and claimed over 1,100 lives.[97]

Infrastructural damage[edit]

Heat waves can and do cause roads and highways to buckle and melt,[98] water lines to burst, and power transformers to detonate, causing fires. Heat waves can also damage rail roads, such as buckling and kinking rails, which can lead to slower traffic, delays, and even cancellations of service when rails are too dangerous to traverse by trains.

Power outages[edit]

Heat waves often lead to electricity spikes due to increased air conditioning use, which can create power outages, exacerbating the problem. During the 2006 North American heat wave, thousands of homes and businesses went without power, especially in California. In Los Angeles, electrical transformers failed, leaving thousands without power for as long as five days.[99] The 2009 South Eastern Australia Heat Wave caused the city of Melbourne, Australia to experience some major power disruptions which left over half a million people without power as the heat wave blew transformers and overloaded a power grid.

Options for reducing impacts of heat waves on people[edit]

Reducing urban heat island effect[edit]

Green roof of Chicago City Hall.
External video
Trinity Cathedral (Phoenix).JPG
video icon “Rethinking cities in the face of extreme heat”, Knowable Magazine, 2022.

Strategies to reduce excessive heat in cities include: Planting trees in cities, white roofs and light-coloured concrete, green infrastructure (including green roofs), passive daytime radiative cooling.

The temperature difference between urban areas and the surrounding suburban or rural areas can be as much as 5 °C (9.0 °F). Nearly 40 percent of that increase is due to the prevalence of dark roofs, with the remainder coming from dark-colored pavement and the declining presence of vegetation. The heat island effect can be counteracted slightly by using white or reflective materials to build houses, roofs, pavements, and roads, thus increasing the overall albedo of the city.[100]

Using air conditioning and other cooling systems[edit]

One public health measure taken during heat waves is the setting-up of air-conditioned public cooling centers. There are novel designs for cooling systems that are relatively low-cost, do not use electrical components, are off-grid and chemically store solar energy for on-demand use.[101][102]

Adding air conditioning in schools[103] provides a cooler work place but results in additional greenhouse gas emissions unless solar energy is used.

Examples by country[edit]

United States[edit]

The 1936 North American heat wave. Record temperatures were based on 112-year records

In July 2019, over 50 million people in the United States were present in a jurisdiction with any type of heat advisory. Scientists predicted that in the days following the issuance of these warnings, many records for highest low temperatures will be broken: i.e. the lowest temperature in a 24-hour period will be higher than any low temperature measured before.[104]

According to estimates of a 2022 study, 107 million people in the US will experience extremely dangerous heat in the year 2053.[105]

Heat waves are the most lethal type of weather phenomenon in the United States. Between 1992 and 2001, deaths from excessive heat in the United States numbered 2,190, compared with 880 deaths from floods and 150 from hurricanes.[106] The average annual number of fatalities directly attributed to heat in the United States is about 400.[79] The 1995 Chicago heat wave, one of the worst in US history, led to approximately 739 heat-related deaths over a period of 5 days.[107] In the United States, the loss of human life in hot spells in summer exceeds that caused by all other weather events combined, including lightning, rain, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes.[108][109]

About 6,200 Americans are hospitalized each summer (data from 2008) due to excessive heat, and those at highest risk are poor, uninsured or elderly.[110]

Research in the United States suggests that the relationship between extreme temperature and mortality varies by location. Heat is more likely to increase the risk of mortality in cities in the northern part of the country than in the southern regions of the country. For example, when Chicago, Denver, or New York City experience unusually hot summertime temperatures, elevated levels of illness and death are predicted. In contrast, parts of the country that are mild to hot year-round have a lower public health risk from excessive heat. Research shows that residents of southern cities, such as Miami, Tampa, Los Angeles, and Phoenix, tend to be acclimated to hot weather conditions and therefore less vulnerable to heat related deaths. However, as a whole, people in the United States appear to be adapting to hotter temperatures further north each decade, although this might be due to better infrastructure, more modern building design, and better public awareness.[111]

Society and culture[edit]

Policy makers, funders and researchers have created the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance coalition under the Atlantic Council to advocate for naming heatwaves, measuring them, and ranking them to build better awareness of their impacts.[112][113]

See also[edit]


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