11.07.2023 – Together with researchers from ETH Zurich, the Swiss TPH and the University of Basel, the team led by Ana Maria Vicedo-Cabrera recently published a new study about the contribution of man-made climate change on deaths due to heat in the summer of 2022 in Switzerland. It is one of the first studies worldwide to quantify the share of global warming in heat-related deaths.
Climate change is intensifying heat, leading to a significant increase in heat-related health problems. The study, titled “The footprint of human-induced climate change on heat-related deaths in the summer of 2022 in Switzerland,” analyzed the effects of the heat in terms of regional differences and age and sex. The study not only proves the that exceptional heat in the summer of 2022 led to a substantial increase in mortality in Switzerland, but also the contribution of human activities to the observed burden is increasing in recent decades: it is around 60 percent. This study shows that heat- mainly affected people over 65 years of age and the number of deaths was generally higher among women. The study team based its calculations on so-called attribution studies, which use established statistical methods and climate simulations to estimate the contribution of man-made climate change to the observed health burden. The study concludes that some cities are better adapted to deal with the heat than others. Cities in western Switzerland and in Ticino, for example, had already created heat-health actions plans in the wake of the 2003 summer heatwave which prevented even higher heat-related mortality rates in the summer of 2022, according to study leader Ana Vicedo-Cabrera. The study therefore calls on authorities to improve their existing action plans to effectively protect the population from heat.
Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera, Evan de Schrijver, Dominik L. Schumacher, Martina S. Ragettli, Erich M. Fischer, Sonia I. Seneviratne: The footprint of human-induced climate change on heat-related deaths in the summer of 2022 in Switzerland. 4 July 2023, Environmental Research Letters.