Frequency of Days Over 50°C Doubled Since 1980

More than 1.2 billion people may experience thermal discomfort by 2100 due to climate change.


According to an analysis conducted by the BBC, the frequency of exceptionally hot days every year has doubled since the 1980s. Exceptionally hot days are considered days when the temperature hits 50°C.

We are now seeing the increasing temperature in more parts of the world than ever before. Temperatures exceeding  50°C have been recorded for about 14 days each year on average during 1980 and 2009. Between 2010 and 2019, the number has increased to 26 days each year. 

The temperature rise has an impact on human and animal health, as well as causing damage to buildings, electrical systems, and roadways. Associate Director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford said that “the increase can be 100% attributed to the burning of fossil fuels.”

The BBC found that temperatures of 50°C are most commonly found in the Gulf areas and the Middle East. Both Italy and Canada experienced record-breaking temperatures this summer. Scientists have warned that days over 50°C may happen worldwide unless we minimise fossil fuel emissions. 

Climate researcher Dr Sihan Li at the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford warned that “we need to act quickly. The faster we cut our emissions, the better off we’ll all be.” Dr Li also said that if we continue fossil fuel emissions at the current rate and do not take measures to minimise them, the extreme heat events will be more frequent, “but emergency response and recovery will become more challenging.”

Scientists are calling for urgent action from world leaders at the UN summit in Glasgow in November. Scientists and researchers will ask governments to commit to new emission cuts to limit the rise of global temperatures. 

High temperatures in combination with humidity may create severe health risks. 1.2 billion people around the world may experience heat stress by 2100 if the current levels of global warming continue, according to a study conducted by Rutgers University. This will be at least four times more than those affected today. 

Besides posing a threat to human health, landscapes will also change. High heat levels make droughts, wildfires, and desertification more likely. 

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