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“Extremely hot” days have tripled since the 1980s, and more are coming

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Amy Norton Health Day Reporter

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 (HealthDay News)

Inhabitants of cities around the world sweating According to a new study, there were three times as many days as the “extreme heat” of the 1980s.

This study is the latest to graph the increase in human exposure to dangerously high temperatures. Experts said they looked into what was happening in more detail than in previous studies-and it suggests that extreme heat exposure is more widespread than expected.

Researchers estimate that 1.7 billion urban dwellers (or nearly one-fifth of the planet) were exposed to increasing extreme heat days between 1983 and 2016.

These are the types of temperatures that increase the risk of heat stroke, even when a healthy person is working or exercising outdoors.

“It’s not news that it’s getting hot,” said Cascade Tuhorsuke, a research scientist and research leader at Columbia University’s Institute for Earth Research in New York City, for people living in hot cities.

Tuholske, a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara at the time of the survey, said that urban areas are not the only place to feel the heat.

However, cities are sizzling due to the combination of two factors: climate change and the so-called heat island effect. Here, the lack of grass and trees and the abundance of concrete and asphalt allow heat to be trapped.

In addition, much of the world’s population is moving to urban areas. This is another reason for the increased exposure to extreme urban heat, discovered by Tuholske’s team.

NS Investigation result, Recently published Minutes of the National Academy of Sciences, It is based on data from over 13,000 cities around the world. Researchers have estimated population exposure to extremely hot days. This was defined as a “wet-bulb globe” temperature above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

This is an index that considers not only temperature but also humidity, wind speed, and cloud cover. It gives the idea of ​​”feeling” temperature for those in the sun.

Wet-bulb globes When the temperature reaches the threshold of 30 ° C, healthy people begin to feel the heat stress After working or exercising outdoors for 30 minutes, according to the US National Weather Service.

“It’s not just the elderly that are affected,” Tuholske said.

His team estimates that during the study period, exposure of these urban people to extremely hot days increased by 200%. However, the impact was not uniform. Twenty-five urban areas accounted for a quarter of the increased exposure to extreme heat.

The top four are: Dhaka, Bangladesh. Delhi, India; Kolkata, India; and Bangkok, Thailand.

Still, the problem is widespread, with nearly half of urban areas showing increased exposure of inhabitants to extreme heat.

According to Dr. Mona Surfati, director of the climate and health program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, the findings will gather more detailed information about what urban residents are actually experiencing. Emphasizes the importance of.

She said that some innovative projects are aimed at that. In Miami, for example, researchers equip “citizens” with heat sensors to track the temperatures they face in their daily lives. At one bus stop, Surfati said the average temperature exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Global warming needs to be addressed with a wide range of changes, including less reliance on fossil fuels such as oil and coal, but regional measures are also important, Sarfaty and Tuholske said.

According to Surfati, cities can create more “green space” not only to provide shade, but also to cool the air. In some cities, such as Phoenix, the asphalt has a special coating to cool the paved area.

Local health departments and employers can also do more to raise awareness, Surfati said. She pointed out a recent study in Texas. stress Awareness raising program “was found to decrease Heat-related illness Among city officials who worked outdoors.

“People don’t need to know how quickly they can succumb to heat,” Sarfaty explained.

Like so many health conditions, Tuholske is because low-income, left-behind people often work outdoors and lack air conditioning and other options to reduce exposure to dangerous heat. Said to be the most vulnerable.

He said there are special concerns for people living in cities around the world that they are not designed to sustain their current large population.

For more information

World Health Organization more Climate change and health..

Source: Cascade Tuholske, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York City. Mona Sarfaty, MD, MPH, Director, Climate and Health Program, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. Minutes of the National Academy of Sciences, Online, October 4, 2021

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