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Heatwaves 2001-2017

Very hot and very cold temperatures can occur in the same place at different times: whilst Southern Asian territories have hot summers, winters can be very cold. Extreme temperatures are most dangerous when they are unusual in that location.The highest absolute number of heatwaves occurred in India and Japan, followed by the USA and Pakistan. Most fatalities through heatwaves have been recorded in Russia, France and Italy. In Russia most of them were caused during a devastating heatwave in 2010, which started in Moscow in June 2010 as temperatures reached 33.1 °C (91.6 °F), and stayed around 30 °C (90 °F) for the rest of the week. France was hit badly in a heatwave in Western Europe in 2003, that caused also casualties in Germany and the United Kingdom.

According to recent studies an increased occurrence of such events due to climate change and global warming is highly likely.


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Technical Notes

This map shows the proportion of  heatwave disasters between 2001 and 2017, that happened there.

A heatwave is described as a period of abnormally hot and/or unusually humid weather. Typically a heat wave lasts two or more days. The exact temperature criteria for what constitutes a heat wave vary by location.
For a disaster to included at least one of the following criteria must be fulfilled:
Ten (10) or more people reported killed
Hundred (100) or more people reported affected
Declaration of a state of emergency
Call for international assistance

Note: In their 2018 review of ‘Heatwave and health impact research’ Campbell et al. conclude that “When examining the location of heatwave and health impact research worldwide, studies were concentrated on mid-latitude, high-income countries of low- to medium-population density. Regions projected to experience the most extreme heatwaves in the future were not represented. Furthermore, the majority of studies examined mortality as a key indicator of population-wide impact, rather than the more sensitive indicator of morbidity.”

Data sources
This map uses data by  EM-DAT: The Emergency Events Database (last accessed March 2018). We aim to map as complete data as possible and therefore estimate data for missing values. In some cases, missing data for very small territories is not used in the cartogram and that area is therefore omitted in the map.

All modifications to the original data source are noted in our data sheets.

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