Extremely hot days have doubled in the past 40 years, according to BBC research

Heat wave in India. Photo: Archive.

The number of days of extreme heat per year, when temperatures reach 50 degrees Celsius, have doubled since 1980, according to a BBC study.

Those temperatures are also being recorded in more and more areas of the world, posing an unprecedented challenge to our health and the way we live.

The total number of days above 50ºC increased in each of the past four decades.

Between 1980 and 2009, temperatures exceeded 50 ° C about 14 days a year on average, a figure that increased to 26 days a year between 2010 and 2019.

“The increase can be attributed 100% to the burning of fossil fuels,” says Dr. Friederike Otto, a leading climate scientist.

As the entire planet warms, extreme temperatures become more likely and more intense.

High temperatures can be deadly to humans and nature, causing major problems in buildings, roads, and power systems.

Temperatures of 50 ° C occur predominantly in the Middle East and Gulf regions.

And after record temperatures of 48.8 ° C were recorded in Italy and 49.6 ° C in Canada this summer, scientists have warned that temperatures above 50 ° C will be experienced elsewhere unless we reduce emissions of fossil fuels.

“We need to act quickly. The faster we reduce our emissions, the better off we will all be,” says climate researcher Sihan Li.

“With continued emissions and inaction, these extreme heat events will not only become more severe and frequent, but the emergency response and recovery will be more demanding,” warns Dr. Li.

The BBC analysis also found that in the past decade, maximum temperatures increased 0.5 ° C compared to the longer-term average recorded between 1980 and 2009.

But these increases have not been felt equally around the world: in Eastern Europe, southern Africa and Brazil some maximum temperatures increased by more than 1 ° C, and parts of the Arctic and the Middle East saw increases of more than 2 ° C .

The scientists called for urgent action on world leaders who will meet at the UN climate summit in November, in which governments will be asked to commit to further emissions cuts to limit the rise in global temperature.

Impact of extreme heat

This BBC analysis includes a documentary series called Life at 50C that investigates how extreme heat is affecting people around the world.

Even below 50 ° C, high temperatures and humidity can create serious health risks.

Up to 1.2 billion people worldwide could face heat stress conditions by the year 2100 if current levels of global warming continue, according to a Rutgers University study published last year. That is at least four times more than those affected today.

People also face difficult decisions as the landscape around them changes, as extreme heat increases the likelihood of droughts and wildfires.

(Taken from BBC)

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