University of Oulu

Lüthi, S., Fairless, C., Fischer, E.M. et al. Rapid increase in the risk of heat-related mortality. Nat Commun 14, 4894 (2023).

Rapid increase in the risk of heat-related mortality

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Author: Lüthi, Samuel1,2; Fairless, Christopher1; Fischer, Erich M.3;
Organizations: 1Institute for Environmental Decisions, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
2Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, Zurich, Switzerland
3Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
4Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health. Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA
5Department of Public Health Environments and Society, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
6Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
7Environmental and Occupational Medicine, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Medicine and NTU Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
8National Institute of Environmental Health Science, National Health Research Institutes, Zhunan, Taiwan
9Graduate Institute of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, NTU College of Public Health, Taipei, Taiwan
10Climate, Air Quality Research Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
11Center for Climate Change Adaptation, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan
12IBE-Chair of Epidemiology, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany
13Department of Physical, Chemical and Natural Systems, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla, Spain
14Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic
15Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic
16School of Epidemiology & Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada
17Environmental Health Science and Research Bureau, Health Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada
18CIBER of Epidemiology and Public Health, Madrid, Spain
19Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research (CERH), University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
20Department of Epidemiology, Instituto Nacional de Saúde Dr. Ricardo Jorge, Lisbon, Portugal
21Centre for Statistical Methodology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
22Centre on Climate Change & Planetary Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
23Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
24Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-10-09


Heat-related mortality has been identified as one of the key climate extremes posing a risk to human health. Current research focuses largely on how heat mortality increases with mean global temperature rise, but it is unclear how much climate change will increase the frequency and severity of extreme summer seasons with high impact on human health. In this probabilistic analysis, we combined empirical heat-mortality relationships for 748 locations from 47 countries with climate model large ensemble data to identify probable past and future highly impactful summer seasons. Across most locations, heat mortality counts of a 1-in-100 year season in the climate of 2000 would be expected once every ten to twenty years in the climate of 2020. These return periods are projected to further shorten under warming levels of 1.5 °C and 2 °C, where heat-mortality extremes of the past climate will eventually become commonplace if no adaptation occurs. Our findings highlight the urgent need for strong mitigation and adaptation to reduce impacts on human lives.

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Series: Nature communications
ISSN: 2041-1723
ISSN-E: 2041-1723
ISSN-L: 2041-1723
Volume: 14
Issue: 1
Article number: 4894
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-40599-x
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3121 General medicine, internal medicine and other clinical medicine
Funding: E.F. acknowledges funding from the EU Horizon 2020 Project XAIDA (grant agreement 101003469) and by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant 200020_178778). V.H. was supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No.: 101032087). J.K. and A.U. acknowledge funding from the Czech Science Foundation (project 22-24920 S).
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit