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Expert comment: How will more frequent heatwaves impact on our health? – University of Reading

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Expert comment: How will more frequent heatwaves impact on our health?

Release Date 21 June 2017

Heatwaves like the one the UK has experienced this week may become hotter and more frequent

Professor Ed Hawkins, Professor of Climate Science at the University of Reading, said:

"Increases in temperature of 1-2°C may not sound too bad, but the negative consequences become more apparent during periods of hot weather. The overall warming means heatwaves are hotter and more frequent - what was once extreme is slowly becoming more normal.

"We will need to adapt to these increased risks to infrastructure and people's health, especially the elderly and the very young. It is possible that the current heatwave will produce an excess of deaths in the UK, similarly to a heatwave in July 2016 and many before that.

"We are seeing similar trends of rising temperatures across the world. The tropical regions, especially developing nations, will be some of the worst affected.

"By the end of the century around half of the world's population are likely to be regularly exposed to conditions which are potentially deadly, even with substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions."

Professor Hawkins was a co-author of a study published in Nature on 19 June assessing the health risks associated with increasingly frequent heatwaves. Read the study here.

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