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268 R. Garc´ıa-Herrera et al. An 18-day heat wave in July 2006 rivaled 2003’s in its intensity, killing some 2,000 people in France. "Heat waves are silent killers," tweeted Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at Potsdam University. ... more effective health responses were put in place to limit the number of deaths were such a phenomenon to recur. Even nightly temperatures were higher than the average summer midday highs. The highest temperature recorded was 30.3 °C (86.5 °F) at Belderrig, County Mayo on 8 August.[33][34][35]. No more. Alpine glaciers shrank by 10 percent over the summer, and thawing in the mountains reached greater depths and occurred at higher altitudes than on average, contributing to rock slides. European heat wave of 2003, record high temperatures across Europe in 2003 that resulted in at least 30,000 deaths (more than 14,000 in France alone). Europe failed to act after the 2003 French heatwave. Omissions? [23] The total number of heat-related deaths that occurred during the summer 2003 heat wave is unknown. [citation needed], Not everyone blamed the government. By comparison, this June heat wave lasted just four days. Family doctors were still in the habit of vacationing at the same time. It surpassed even 2003's scorcher in western and central Europe — which has been blamed for 70,000 deaths. In France, 14,802 heat-related deaths (mostly among the elderly) occurred during the heat wave, according to the French National Institute of Health. Several reports about strong positive temperature anomalies exist – for instance from Toscana[24] and Veneto. [citation needed]. Europe heat wave The severe heat wave began in Europe in June 2003 and continued through July until mid-August, raising summer temperatures 20 to 30% higher than the seasonal average in Celsius degrees over a large portion of the continent, extend-ing from northern Spain to the Czech Republic and from Germany to Italy (see map below). Compared to July 2001, temperatures in July 2003 were sizzling. What was learned from the extreme heat wave in Europe that occurred in summer 2003 causing 14 800 deaths in France and many more elsewhere? As a consequence, houses (usually of stone, concrete, or brick construction) do not warm too much during the daytime and radiate minimal heat at night, and air conditioning is usually unnecessary. [17] Temperature records were broken in various cities, with the heat wave being more felt in typically cooler northern Spain. The catastrophe occurred in August, a month in which many people, including government ministers and physicians, are on holiday. The number of people dying in the heat in 2020 was comparable to the 2,234 excess deaths seen during the 2003 Europe-wide heatwave and the 2,323 who died in the heatwave in 2006, PHE said. The comparison of the impact of the 2003 heat wave between countries is hampered by the substantial differences in the methodologies employed to define heat wave events and to estimate … During summer 2003, Europe experienced one of the worst heat wave events in recent history , with an estimated excess mortality varying between 25.000 and 70.000 deaths in Western Europe [9, 10]. The highest temperatures are likely to occur across western and central mainland Europe. "The 2003 European heat wave has caused about 70,000 fatalities. "The 2003 European heat wave has caused about 70,000 fatalities. [37] The warmest summer temperature was set on 17 July in the northern city of Piteå with 32.8 °C (91.0 °F), which although it is very hot for such a northerly coastal location, was largely unrelated to the latter central European intense heat wave. Why Europe's heatwave is so unusual In pictures: Europe's June 2019 heatwave During summer 2003, Europe experienced one of the worst heat wave events in recent history , with an estimated excess mortality varying between 25.000 and 70.000 deaths in Western Europe [9, 10]. These divergent figures indicate that a global assessment of excess mortality is difficult, if not impossible, because no standardized estimates across European countries have been made for the 2003 heat wave . Crops in Southern Europe suffered the most from drought. 546 deaths. During the heat wave, temperatures remained at record highs even at night, breaking the usual cooling cycle. Until the 2003 event, heat waves were a strongly underestimated risk in the French context, which partly explains the high number of victims.[10]. At least 35,000 people died as a result of the record heatwave that scorched Europe in August 2003, says an environmental think tank. [citation needed], The opposition, as well as many of the editorials of the French local press, have blamed the administration. [30], The tarmac melted on part of the M25 between Junctions 26 and 27,[31] and rails buckled from expansion on the hottest day in England in 13 years, while 2 teenaged boys drowned while trying to escape the excessive heat. During the heat wave, which began in June and continued through mid-August, temperatures soared to 20–30 percent above average. Europe failed to act after the 2003 French heatwave. Peer-reviewed analysis places the European death toll at more than 70,000. All in all, more than 52,000 Europeans died from heat in the summer of 2003, making the heat wave one of the deadliest climate-related disasters in Western history. [15] The highest temperature recorded this heatwave was on 7 August, when in Arcen, in Limburg, a temperature of 37.8 °C (100.0 °F) was reached, 0.8 °C below the national record (since 1904). European Union. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. In July 2015, extreme heat in the country killed 3,300. [39], Difference in average temperature (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2012) from 2003, covering the date range of 20 July – 20 August. The number of people dying in the heat in 2020 was comparable to the 2,234 excess deaths seen during the 2003 Europe-wide heatwave and the 2,323 who died in the heatwave in 2006, PHE said. The heat wave raised concerns over global warming and, in particular, Europe’s readiness for climate change. Because of that, and also of the impending change to rainy weather, the harvest was started much earlier than usual (e.g. A new nationwide record temperature of 41.5 °C (106.7 °F) was recorded in Grono, Graubünden.[27]. Several weather records were broken in the United Kingdom, including a new record for the country's highest ever recorded temperature of 38.5 °C (101.3 °F) at Faversham in Kent on 10 August, which remained the highest recorded temperature in the UK until the heatwave in July 2019. Updates? Remarkably, Scandinavia saw a cooler August in 2003 than the previous year when comparative temperatures were very high for the latitude, as the hot air parked over continental Europe. As a massive heat wave bears down on Europe in coming days, France is hoping to avoid the devastating death toll it suffered in 2003, during the hottest spell in centuries. Many companies traditionally closed in August, so people had no choice about when to vacation. Methods: The number of deaths observed from August to November 2003 in France was compared to those expected on the basis of … Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Poumadère, M., Mays, C., Le Mer, S. and Blong, R. (2005), The 2003 Heat Wave in France: Dangerous Climate Change Here and Now. This was the first occasion on which temperatures exceeding 100 °F (38 °C) have ever been officially recorded in the UK. When compared with the 1961–1990 averages the 2003 August month was still a couple of degrees warmer than a normal August in the southern third of the country. All in all, more than 52,000 Europeans died from heat in the summer of 2003, making the heat wave one of the deadliest climate-related disasters in Western history. Simultaneously, air pollution levels, particularly ozone, were dramatically elevated all over the country. Everyone remembers the 15,000 additional deaths in France caused by the heat wave in August 2003, but no‐one knows the total number of victims at European scale although more than 70 scientific papers and reports related to this event have been already published (Cheung et al, 2007). [29] According to the BBC, over 2,000 people more than usual may have died in the United Kingdom during the 2003 heatwave. A pair of heat waves in France have been linked to the deaths of 1,435 people this summer by the country's health ministry. More than 20,000 people died after a record-breaking heatwave left Europe sweltering in August 2003. It is feared the heatwave could be as bad as a Europe-wide blast in 2003 that claimed as many as 20,000 lives. Last year's hot summer in Germany has been estimated to have caused at least 1,000 excess deaths." Because of the usually relatively mild summers, most people did not know how to react to very high temperatures (for instance, with respect to rehydrati… The total number of heat-related deaths that occurred during the summer 2003 heat wave is unknown. [4][5] France does not commonly have very hot summers, particularly in the northern areas,[6] but eight consecutive days with temperatures of more than 40 °C (104 °F) were recorded in Auxerre, Yonne in early August 2003. By mid-August, the grapes in certain vineyards had already reached their optimal sugar content, possibly resulting in 12.0°–12.5° wines (see alcoholic degree). France recorded 11,435 extra deaths during a heat wave in the first two weeks of August when temperatures soared over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), according to officials. The heatwave greatly accelerated the ripening of grapes; also, the heat dehydrated the grapes, making for more concentrated juice. In Portugal, an estimated 1,866 to 2,039 people died of heat-related causes. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. [5], Melting glaciers in the Alps caused avalanches and flash floods in Switzerland. Over the next week, a hot, strong sirocco wind contributed to the spread of extensive forest-fires. European heat wave of 2003, record high temperatures across Europe in 2003 that resulted in at least 30,000 deaths (more than 14,000 in France alone). In Amareleja, one of the hottest cities in Europe, temperatures reached as high as 48 °C (118 °F). In Paris, where it was much warmer, 506 out of 735 deaths were attributable to global warming. The event marks the 2003 European heat wave as the hottest summer in the northern hemisphere. Highest death toll from natural hazards in 50 years With a death toll estimated to exceed 30 000, the heat wave of 2003 is one of the ten deadliest natural disasters in Europe for the last 100 years and the worst in the last 50 years. A higher temperature had only been recorded twice before. The deaths prompted the nation's weather service to institute a … Much of the heat was concentrated in France, England and Spain where nearly 15,000 people died. In France, 14,802 heat-related deaths (mostly among the elderly) occurred during the heat wave, according to the French National Institute of Health. More than 70,000 people died during a record-breaking heat wave that left Europe sweltering in June, July and August 2003. We cannot ignore this one This article is more than 1 year old. France reported 14 802 casualties using a method Due to a number of deaths, the UK government released its Heat Health Watch system, issuing warnings if temperatures rise above 30 °C in the day and 15 °C at night. During summer 2003, the early onset of hot weather, unusually high temperatures, and prolonged heat-stress conditions caused extreme peaks in mortality throughout Europe. Most nights in France are cool, even in summer. On 3 September 2003, 57 bodies were still left unclaimed in the Paris area, and were buried. [36] In spite of this the Scania County stayed below extremes of 30 °C (86 °F) indicating a more subtle kind of heat. Objectives: From August 1st to 20th, 2003, the mean maximum temperature in France exceeded the seasonal norm by 11-12 degrees C on nine consecutive days. French reports suggested five deaths may have resulted from the high temperatures. Below are stats for the month of August 2003 in France. [7] Because of the usually relatively mild summers, most people did not know how to react to very high temperatures (for instance, with respect to rehydration), and most single-family homes and residential facilities built in the last 50 years were not equipped with air conditioning. For the same period in 2000 (in which no noticeable heat wave episodes have occurred) it is estimated that around 1000 people died due to the ambient ozone levels and 1300 due to PM10. During summer 2003, the early onset of hot weather, unusually high temperatures, and prolonged heat-stress conditions caused extreme peaks in mortality throughout Europe. Europe recalls lethal 2003 heat wave Continent looks at the causes, solutions of weather-related tragedy. Around 300 people—mostly elderly—died during the 2003 heatwave in Germany. Britain is also set to swelter in temperatures above … In Portugal, the temperatures reached as high as 47 °C (117 °F) in the south. The bulk of the heat wave in Sweden was instead seen earlier in July in the central and northerly parts of the country, where Stockholm had a July mean of 20.2 °C (68.4 °F) with a high of 25.4 °C (77.7 °F) which although very warm was not record-setting. The 2003 Heat Wave in France: Dangerous Climate Change Here and Now Marc Poumadere,` 1,2∗ Claire Mays,1 Sophie Le Mer,2 and Russell Blong3 In an analysis of the French episode of heat wave in 2003, this article highlights how heat wave dangers result from the intricate association of natural and social factors. Mattei lost his ministerial post in a cabinet reshuffle on 31 March 2004. [8], The high number of deaths can be explained by the conjunction of seemingly unrelated events. The intensity of the heat, as well as its duration, wrought havoc on the unprepared European population. The disaster was one of the deadliest in Europe in a century. Corrections? Heat waves occur infrequently in Europe and can significantly affect human health, as witnessed in summer 2003. The 2003 European heat wave led to the hottest summer on record in Europe since at least 1540. [38], The anomalous overheating affecting the atmosphere also created anomalies on sea surface stratification in the Mediterranean Sea and on the surface currents, as well. France does not commonly have very hot summers, particularly in the northern areas, but eight consecutive days with temperatures of more than 40 °C (104 °F) were recorded in Auxerre, Yonne in early August 2003. The records from 1997 and 2002 held up all throughout the country, and the warmest temperature was 30.8 °C (87.4 °F) in Stockholm on 1 August, which was higher than the warmest Irish temperature. Europe was experiencing a historic heat wave that had been responsible for at least 3,000 deaths in France alone in the summer of 2003. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/event/European-heat-wave-of-2003, NASA - Earth Observatory - European Heat Wave. By Camille Feanny and Kiesha Porter CNN The United Kingdom saw its hottest July maximum temperature on record on the first day of the month (July 1) as temperatures rose to 98°F (36.7°C) at Heathrow airport in London. [citation needed], Many other countries had shortfalls of 5–10%, and the EU total production was down by 10 million tonnes, or 10%. Heat waves must be considered as a threat to European populations living in climates that are currently temperate. Last year's hot summer in Germany has been estimated to have caused at least 1,000 excess deaths." The wines from 2003, although in scarce quantity, are predicted to have exceptional quality, especially in France. 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