Monday, May 20, 2013

Heatwave deaths in New York city could rise by up to 22%, study shows

Suzanne Goldenberg in the Guardian (UK): New York city could experience up to 22% more deaths from extreme summertime heat in the coming decade under global warming, according to a study of the impact of climate trends. The higher deaths will be partially offset by a reduction in deaths due to the milder winters predicted in Manhattan.

Overall, however, the net effect of the new temperature norms under climate change would be to increase weather-related deaths in New York city by up to 6.2% a year by the 2020s, according to the scientists.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, predicted oppressive summer temperatures would exact an increasingly heavy toll on people living in metropolitan areas such as Manhattan in the coming decades. The numbers would not be significantly offset by milder winters, the study found, and deaths due to extreme temperatures would rise more dramatically in the later decades of this century.

Without bold action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, heatwave deaths in New York city could rise by as much as 91% on 1980s levels by the 2080s, according to the study's projections. The net loss of life would be as much as 31% on 1980s levels, the study said.

"This is the first real study of the seasonal trade-off of climate change," Patrick Kinney, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University and one of the authors of the study, said. Kinney added: "What our study suggests is that the heat effects of climate change dominate the winter warming benefits that might also come: climate change will cause more deaths through heat than it will prevent during winter."...

East Houston Street in Manhattan, shot by David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license

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