Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Extreme Heat Threat Rises for Megacities

Scientists warn that even a modest rise in average global temperatures will put millions of city dwellers at greater risk from extreme heat.

Shelter from the fierce sun in a packed market in Lagos, Nigeria. (Image Credit: ouzou Wizman / Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
The area of the world, and the numbers of city dwellers, exposed to serious risk from extreme heat will multiply later this century even if the world’s nations keep their promise and contain global warming to 2°C or less, according to new research.

If global warming is contained at 1.5°C – the ideal target identified at the 2015 climate summit in Paris − the researchers say the number of megacities, with populations over 10 million, in the danger zone will double from today’s figure, and the numbers of people exposed to potentially lethal heat stroke and heat exhaustion could reach 350 million by 2050.

The problem, explored in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is not just the average planetary increment of heat:  it is that averages conceal extremes, and the number of episodes of extreme heat is expected to climb dramatically even with a modest-sounding increase in a global average.

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