Global warming amplified death toll during 2003 European heat wave

70 percent of heat-related deaths in Paris were due to climate change

2003 European heat wave

DEADLY HEAT   Climate change caused hundreds of heat-related deaths in London and Paris during the 2003 European heat wave, simulations suggest. Red regions experienced hotter July temperatures compared with those measured in 2001.


Climate change flaunted its deadly side during the 2003 European heat wave, which killed over 70,000 people across the continent. In London and Paris alone, global warming led to 570 more heat-related deaths than would be expected without human-caused warming, researchers estimate in the July Environmental Research Letters.

Daniel Mitchell of the University of Oxford and colleagues ran thousands of climate simulations with and without the influence of greenhouse gases emitted by humans. The simulations showed that 70 percent of heat-related deaths in central Paris during the heat wave and 20 percent in Greater London could be attributed to climate change. The study is the first to quantify climate change’s role in the event and will inform policy makers on the risks climate change poses, the researchers say.

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