Barcelona Study Reveals Europe’s 2022 Heatwave Toll

Thermometer showing high temperature. Credit: VladisChern/

New research from the Barcelona Global Health Institute (ISGlobal) links last year’s unprecedented European heatwave to a staggering number of deaths.

In 2022, Europe was gripped by a heatwave of historic proportions, leading to over 70,000 deaths, as reported by ISGlobal.

This alarming figure, published in ‘The Lancet Regional Health-Europe’, surpasses previous estimates and highlights the lethal impact of extreme temperatures, according to Telecinco.

The Underestimation Of Heat-Related Deaths

Initially, a study in ‘Nature Medicine’ suggested that weekly temperature averages might not fully capture heat-related mortality. ISGlobal’s recent analysis, using daily temperature data, offers a clearer picture of the impact.

This approach reveals a significant underestimation of deaths due to heat, emphasizing the need for more precise data in assessing the dangers of extreme temperatures.

A Comprehensive Analysis

The research team meticulously analysed daily temperature and mortality data from 147 regions across 16 European countries, spanning 1998 to 2004.

This comparison between heat and cold-related deaths showed that shorter data aggregation periods, such as daily rather than weekly, provide a more accurate mortality estimate.

For instance, the daily data model estimated 290,104 cold-related and 39,434 heat-related premature deaths, while weekly data suggested 8.56 and 21.56 per cent fewer deaths, respectively.

Revising 2022’s Death Toll

Using this refined methodology, ISGlobal recalculated the death toll for 2022. The result: approximately 70,066 fatalities across Europe, a significant increase from the 62,862 initially estimated.

This study’s goal was to highlight the discrepancies arising from aggregate data use and to develop a more accurate theoretical framework for such analyses.

Future Epidemiological Studies

Joan Ballester, the lead researcher from ISGlobal and head of the European Research Council’s EARLY-ADAPT project, emphasized the importance of their findings. ‘The use of aggregated monthly data does not allow us to estimate the short-term effects of temperatures.

‘On the other hand, weekly data offer sufficient precision in mortality estimates to be used in real-time practice in epidemiological surveillance and for public policies,’ he said.

Ballester’s insights suggest that while daily data are ideal, weekly data still offer valuable precision for large-scale epidemiological studies.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


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