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Hundreds of 2003 Heat Wave Deaths Linked to Climate Change

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Man-made climate change responsible for heat-related deaths

A recent study led by University of Oxford scientists found that hundreds of deaths that occurred during an extreme heat wave in Europe in 2003 could be attributed to human-caused climate change.

Researchers worked to determine how many of the 2003 heat wave deaths were linked to climate change, and discovered that 506 of 735 heat-related deaths in Paris and 64 of 315 heat-related deaths in London were due to the influence of man-made climate change.

Scientists determined the figures by utilizing climate model simulations of the 2003 heat wave and connecting the results into a health impact assessment of death rates. After running thousands regional climate model simulations, the researchers concluded that human-influenced climate change increased heat-related deaths in Paris by approximately 70 percent and in London by approximately 20 percent.

Not just Paris and London

While the study focused on the two large cities of London and Paris, scientists noted that those are just two of many European cities that were affected by the extreme 2003 heat wave and that likely also felt the impacts of climate change.

According to the study, the 2003 heat wave caused more widespread damage to human health than any other heat wave on record.

"It is often difficult to understand the implications of a planet that is one degree warmer than preindustrial levels in the global average, but we are now at the stage where we can identify the cost to our health of man-made global warming. This research reveals that in two cities alone hundreds of deaths can be attributed to much higher temperatures resulting from human-induced climate change." -- Dr. Daniel Mitchell, lead author of the study

Matt Mills Matt Mills has been involved in various aspects of online media, both on the editorial side and on the technology side, for more than 16 years. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and is currently involved in multiple projects focused on innovation journalism.