[25] Temperatures rose far above average in most of the country and reached very high mean values especially in terms of heat persistence. Family doctors were still in the habit of vacationing at the same time. The total number of heat-related deaths that occurred during the summer 2003 heat wave is unknown. [36] In spite of this the Scania County stayed below extremes of 30 °C (86 °F) indicating a more subtle kind of heat. Ruben Hallali. European heat wave of 2003, record high temperatures across Europe in 2003 that resulted in at least 30,000 deaths (more than 14,000 in France alone). [23] Britannica Kids Holiday Bundle! [17] Temperature records were broken in various cities, with the heat wave being more felt in typically cooler northern Spain. [citation needed]. Why Europe's heatwave is so unusual In pictures: Europe's June 2019 heatwave During the 2003 heat wave in Europe, three days after the start and until four days after the conclusion of the heat wave, 70.000 excess deaths across the entire continent were counted 43, 44 . Europe’s 2003 heatwave resulted in the premature deaths of an estimated 70,000 people. The heat wave led to health crises in several countries and combined with drought to create a crop shortfall in parts of Southern Europe. Temperature records were broken in a number of countries in 2003 as Europe experienced its hottest weather in at least 500 years. The 2003 Heat Wave in France: Dangerous Climate Change Here and Now Marc Poumadere,` 1,2∗ Claire Mays,1 Sophie Le Mer,2 and Russell Blong3 In an analysis of the French episode of heat wave in 2003, this article highlights how heat wave dangers result from the intricate association of natural and social factors. This was the first occasion on which temperatures exceeding 100 °F (38 °C) have ever been officially recorded in the UK. However, Atlantic cyclones brought cool and wet weather for a short while at the end of July and beginning of August before the temperatures started to increase substantially from 3 August onwards. [37] The warmest summer temperature was set on 17 July in the northern city of Piteå with 32.8 °C (91.0 °F), which although it is very hot for such a northerly coastal location, was largely unrelated to the latter central European intense heat wave. [39], Difference in average temperature (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2012) from 2003, covering the date range of 20 July – 20 August. The 2003 heat wave appeared at first to be an outlier. Even nightly temperatures were higher than the average summer midday highs. By mid-August, the grapes in certain vineyards had already reached their optimal sugar content, possibly resulting in 12.0°–12.5° wines (see alcoholic degree). On 8 August, a temperature of 37.7 °C (99.9 °F) was recorded, and 12 August had a temperature of 37.2 °C (99.0 °F).[16]. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). More than 70,000 people died during a record-breaking heat wave that left Europe sweltering in June, July and August 2003. Only the deep southern Sweden saw any type of heatwave effect in the country, with the average high of Lund for August being 23.9 °C (75.0 °F), which is a very warm temperature average for August. [5], Melting glaciers in the Alps caused avalanches and flash floods in Switzerland. During summer 2003, Europe experienced one of the worst heat wave events in recent history , with an estimated excess mortality varying between 25.000 and 70.000 deaths in Western Europe [9, 10]. [citation needed], That shortcomings of the nation's health system could allow such a death toll is a controversy in France. It surpassed even 2003's scorcher in western and central Europe — which has been blamed for 70,000 deaths. Temperature records were broken in a number of countries in 2003 as Europe experienced its hottest weather in at least 500 years. Around 300 people—mostly elderly—died during the 2003 heatwave in Germany. The total number of heat-related deaths that occurred during the summer 2003 heat wave is unknown. For the same period in 2000 (in which no noticeable heat wave episodes have occurred) it is estimated that around 1000 people died due to the ambient ozone levels and 1300 due to PM10. Objectives: From August 1st to 20th, 2003, the mean maximum temperature in France exceeded the seasonal norm by 11-12 degrees C on nine consecutive days. While the elderly and people living alone are particularly vulnerable to heat waves, no segment of the population may be considered protected from the risks associated with heat waves. At dawn that same day, a freak storm developed in the southern region of the country. Comparisons were drawn to a heatwave in August 2003 which contributed to almost 15,000 deaths in the country. France reported 14 802 casualties using a method At least 35,000 people died as a result of the record heatwave that scorched Europe in August 2003, says an environmental think tank. Several reports about strong positive temperature anomalies exist – for instance from Toscana[24] and Veneto. Gobierno de España", "Agencia Estatal de Meteorología – AEMET. [23] The high humidity intensified the perception of heat and population suffering. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The event marks the 2003 European heat wave as the hottest summer in the northern hemisphere. France Heat Wave Death Toll at 15,000 JOSEPH COLEMAN September 9, 2003 GMT PARIS (AP) _ France’s leading undertaker estimated the country’s death toll from the summer heat wave at 15,000 on Tuesday, far exceeding the official tally and putting further pressure on the government to improve its health care system. ... more effective health responses were put in place to limit the number of deaths were such a phenomenon to recur. By comparison, this June heat wave lasted just four days. [citation needed], Many other countries had shortfalls of 5–10%, and the EU total production was down by 10 million tonnes, or 10%. Most nights in France are cool, even in summer. 268 R. Garc´ıa-Herrera et al. Hot temperatures that occurred during the summer 2003 in Europe were associated to an excess of thousands deaths. Last year's hot summer in Germany has been estimated to have caused at least 1,000 excess deaths." Europe failed to act after the 2003 French heatwave. In Amareleja, one of the hottest cities in Europe, temperatures reached as high as 48 °C (118 °F). French reports suggested five deaths may have resulted from the high temperatures. In France, 14,802 heat-related deaths (mostly among the elderly) occurred during the heat wave, according to the French National Institute of Health. Last year's hot summer in Germany has been estimated to have caused at least 1,000 excess deaths." Updates? Gobierno de España", http://www.clima.ibimet.cnr.it/attachments/Sommario%20Clima%202003-Toscana.pdf, "(Analisi meteo-climatica inverno 2002/2003)", https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/100-f-britains-hottest-day-99871.html, "Great weather events: Temperatures records fall in summer 2003", "Met Éireann – Monthly Weather Bulletin (June 2003)", "Met Éireann – Monthly Weather Bulletin (July 2003)", "Met Éireann – Monthly Weather Bulletin (August 2003)", "Temperature & Cloud statistics for Sweden – August 2003", "Temperature & Cloud statistics for Sweden – July 2003", "Effects of 2003 heatwave on the Sea Surface in Central Mediterranean", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2003_European_heat_wave&oldid=992212374, Articles with dead external links from August 2018, Articles with permanently dead external links, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles with unsourced statements from December 2020, Articles with unsourced statements from September 2017, Articles with failed verification from September 2017, Articles with unsourced statements from October 2016, Articles with unsourced statements from April 2007, Articles with unsourced statements from April 2010, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 4 December 2020, at 02:32. Poumadère, M., Mays, C., Le Mer, S. and Blong, R. (2005), The 2003 Heat Wave in France: Dangerous Climate Change Here and Now. A pair of heat waves in France have been linked to the deaths of 1,435 people this summer by the country's health ministry. The relationship of mortality with temperature and ozone or PM10 from “normal” summers may not fully apply. The heat wave also affected the environment. Although research established that heat waves represent a major threat for public health, France had no policy in place. "These thousands of elderly victims didn't die from a heat wave as such, but from the isolation and insufficient assistance they lived with day in and out, and which almost any crisis situation could render fatal. "The 2003 European heat wave has caused about 70,000 fatalities. French society has been confronted in a brutal way with the social implications of an ageing population and the tragedy of the heat wave has brought home to many people the important question of quality of life in old age. The deaths prompted the nation's weather service to institute a … Heat waves occur infrequently in Europe and can significantly affect human health, as witnessed in summer 2003. A major increase in mortality was then observed, which main epidemiological features are described herein. Many blamed Health Minister Jean-François Mattei for failing to return from his vacation when the heat wave became serious, and his aides for blocking emergency measures in public hospitals (such as the recalling of physicians). It is not clear that more physicians would have helped, as the main limitation was not the health system, but locating old people needing assistance. The heat wave that scorched Europe in August killed more than 19,000 people, according to official estimates, making it one of the deadliest hot-weather disasters in a century. [17] A further research of INE estimated a 12,963 excess of deaths during summer of 2003. 32. Many companies traditionally closed in August, so people had no choice about when to vacation. More than 20,000 people died after a record-breaking heatwave left Europe sweltering in August 2003. "[9], Moreover, the French episode of heat wave in 2003 shows how heat wave dangers result from the intricate association of natural and social factors. Elderly persons with family support or those residing in nursing homes were more likely to have others who could make the adjustments for them. With the perspective of three years after the event, an emphasis is placed on the readiness of society in the case of a similar climatic event. Compared to July 2001, temperatures in July 2003 were sizzling. The comparison of the impact of the 2003 heat wave between countries is hampered by the substantial differences in the methodologies employed to define heat wave events and to estimate … The weather station of Catenanuova, in Sicily, had a monthly mean of 31.5 °C (88.7 °F) in July 2003, with an absolute maximum of 46.0 °C (114.8 °F) on 17 July, with monthly mean maximum temperatures of 36.0 °C (96.8 °F), 38.9 °C (102.0 °F) and 38.0 °C (100.4 °F) in June, July, and August 2003, respectively. In 2003, a heat wave lasting two weeks killed an estimated 15,000 people in France—and 70,000 throughout Europe. PARIS (AP) _ France's leading undertaker estimated the country's death toll from the summer heat wave at 15,000 on Tuesday, far exceeding the official tally and putting further pressure on the government to improve its health care system. Comparisons were drawn to a heatwave in August 2003 which contributed to almost 15,000 deaths in the country. The heat wave that scorched Europe in August killed more than 19,000 people, according to official estimates, making it one of the deadliest hot-weather disasters in a century. By Camille Feanny and Kiesha Porter CNN Compared to July 2001, temperatures in July 2003 were sizzling. Until the 2003 event, heat waves were a strongly underestimated risk in the French context, which partly explains the high number of victims.[10]. The heat wave broke no records,[citation needed] although four tropical weather-designated days in mid-July, preceding the official wave, are not counted due to a cool day in between and the nature of the Netherlands specification/definition of a heat wave. The disaster was one of the deadliest in Europe in a century. Furthermore, while contingency plans were made for a variety of natural and man-made catastrophes, high temperatures had rarely been considered a major hazard. France does not commonly have very hot summers, particularly in the northern areas, but eight consecutive days with temperatures of more than 40 °C (104 °F) were recorded in Auxerre, Yonne in early August 2003. During the heat wave, which began in June and continued through mid-August, temperatures soared to 20–30 percent above average. With a massive heat wave headed toward Europe in the coming days, major cities such as Paris are herding their citizens toward pools and air conditioning to prevent heat-related deaths. [14], About 1,500[5][15] heat-related deaths occurred in the Netherlands, again largely the elderly. [7] Because of the usually relatively mild summers, most people did not know how to react to very high temperatures (for instance, with respect to rehydration), and most single-family homes and residential facilities built in the last 50 years were not equipped with air conditioning. in mid-August for areas that are normally harvested in September). In Portugal, an estimated 1,866 to 2,039 people died of heat-related causes. An analysis from Athens suggests that high temperature and air pollution concentrations may also interact to produce a greater effect than each factor acting alone ( Katsouyanni et al., 1993 ). Highest death toll from natural hazards in 50 years With a death toll estimated to exceed 30 000, the heat wave of 2003 is one of the ten deadliest natural disasters in Europe for the last 100 years and the worst in the last 50 years. Much of the heat was concentrated in France, England and Spain where nearly 15,000 people died. The heat wave baked many parts of Europe, devastating livestock and fanning forest fires, but no other country has announced a death toll even close to the one recorded by France. Corrections? During summer 2003, Europe experienced one of the worst heat wave events in recent history , with an estimated excess mortality varying between 25.000 and 70.000 deaths in Western Europe [9, 10]. This is some 8% of the total deaths in this 3 months period. The 2003 heatwave led to the deaths of an estimated 70,000 people across Europe, and 15,000 in France alone. The administration of President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin laid the blame on families who had left their elderly behind without caring for them, the 35-hour workweek, which affected the amount of time doctors could work, and family practitioners vacationing in August. Below are stats for the month of August 2003 in France. Elderly people were most affected. A total higher than 38,000 excess deaths during August 2003 has been declared in seven European countries . [citation needed], Not everyone blamed the government. In addition, high water temperatures and low water levels shut down French nuclear power facilities just when demand for electricity peaked. All in all, more than 52,000 Europeans died from heat in the summer of 2003, making the heat wave one of the deadliest climate-related disasters in Western history. European heat wave of 2003, record high temperatures across Europe in 2003 that resulted in at least 30,000 deaths (more than 14,000 in France alone). Everyone remembers the 15,000 additional deaths in France caused by the heat wave in August 2003, but no‐one knows the total number of victims at European scale although more than 70 scientific papers and reports related to this event have been already published (Cheung et al, 2007). Many bodies were not claimed for many weeks because relatives were on holiday. Europe heat wave The severe heat wave began in Europe in June 2003 and continued through July until mid-August, raising summer temperatures 20 to 30% higher than the seasonal average in Celsius degrees over a large portion of the continent, extend-ing from northern Spain to the Czech Republic and from Germany to Italy (see map below). In July 2015, extreme heat in the country killed 3,300. This led to statistically improbable survival rates with the weakest group having fewer deaths than more physically fit persons; most of the heat victims came from the group of elderly persons not requiring constant medical care, and/or those living alone, without frequent contact with immediate family. [2] France was hit especially hard. When compared with the 1961–1990 averages the 2003 August month was still a couple of degrees warmer than a normal August in the southern third of the country. The elderly were particularly susceptible to the heat, as were those who were chronically ill or isolated from sources of aid. As a consequence, houses (usually of stone, concrete, or brick construction) do not warm too much during the daytime and radiate minimal heat at night, and air conditioning is usually unnecessary. A seasonal current of the central Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ionian Stream (AIS), was affected by the warm temperatures, resulting in modifications in its path and intensity. Although a comparatively low exposure to the heatwave this is to be expected given the greater continental influence. The records from 1997 and 2002 held up all throughout the country, and the warmest temperature was 30.8 °C (87.4 °F) in Stockholm on 1 August, which was higher than the warmest Irish temperature. The catastrophe occurred in August, a month in which many people, including government ministers and physicians, are on holiday. Europe was experiencing a historic heat wave that had been responsible for at least 3,000 deaths in France alone in the summer of 2003. [38], The anomalous overheating affecting the atmosphere also created anomalies on sea surface stratification in the Mediterranean Sea and on the surface currents, as well. Alpine glaciers shrank by 10 percent over the summer, and thawing in the mountains reached greater depths and occurred at higher altitudes than on average, contributing to rock slides. During the heat wave, temperatures remained at record highs even at night, breaking the usual cooling cycle. An 18-day heat wave in July 2006 rivaled 2003’s in its intensity, killing some 2,000 people in France. The United Kingdom experienced one of its hottest summers on record with temperatures well above average. [12][13] Five percent of Portugal's countryside and 10% of the forests (215,000 hectares[5] or an estimated 2,150 km2 (830 sq mi)), were destroyed, and 18 people died in the flames. This report reviews the current knowledge about the effects of heat-waves, including the physiological aspects of heat illness and epidemiological studies on excess mortality, and makes recommendations for preventive action. We cannot ignore this one This article is more than 1 year old. [29] According to the BBC, over 2,000 people more than usual may have died in the United Kingdom during the 2003 heatwave. "Heat waves are silent killers," tweeted Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at Potsdam University. [3], The predominant heat was recorded in July and August, partly a result of the western European seasonal lag from the maritime influence of the Atlantic warm waters in combination with hot continental air and strong southerly winds. The 2003 European heat wave led to the hottest summer on record in Europe since at least 1540. A higher temperature had only been recorded twice before. The 2003 European heatwave caused 35,000 deaths. The European heat wave of 2003 affected much of western Europe, breaking temperature records. European Union. [32], The summer of 2003 was warmer than average in Ireland, but the heat was far less pronounced there than in the rest of Europe. This means an excess of around 400–600 deaths in 2003, compared to the average summer of 2000. France recorded 11,435 extra deaths during a heat wave in the first two weeks of August when temperatures soared over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), according to officials. The comparison of the impact of the 2003 heat wave between countries is hampered by the substantial differences in the methodologies employed to define heat wave events and to estimate … Omissions? The summer of 2003 was among the warmest in the last three centuries,[23] and the maximum temperatures of July and August remained above 30 °C (86 °F). 2003 heat wave were elderly brings another dimension. The highest temperatures are likely to occur across western and central mainland Europe. These shortfalls in wheat harvest occurred as a result of the long drought. According the UK Met Office, temperatures in southwest Wimbledon reached 96.3°F, the highest temperature ever recorded during the Wimbledon tennis tournament. The heat wave raised concerns over global warming and, in particular, Europe’s readiness for climate change. The highest temperature recorded was 30.3 °C (86.5 °F) at Belderrig, County Mayo on 8 August.[33][34][35]. It was estimated that about 15 000 excess deaths occurred during the August 1–20 heat wave in France. Over the next week, a hot, strong sirocco wind contributed to the spread of extensive forest-fires. On 3 September 2003, 57 bodies were still left unclaimed in the Paris area, and were buried. The United Kingdom saw its hottest July maximum temperature on record on the first day of the month (July 1) as temperatures rose to 98°F (36.7°C) at Heathrow airport in London. 546 deaths. A particularly vocal critic was Dr. Patrick Pelloux, head of the union of emergency physicians, who blamed the Raffarin administration for ignoring warnings from health and emergency professionals and trying to minimize the crisis. [26], In Germany, shipping could not navigate the Elbe or Danube, as a result of low water levels. An estimated 15,000 heat-related deaths were reported in France following the 2003 summer heat wave. Europe recalls lethal 2003 heat wave Continent looks at the causes, solutions of weather-related tragedy. Remarkably, Scandinavia saw a cooler August in 2003 than the previous year when comparative temperatures were very high for the latitude, as the hot air parked over continental Europe. Europe was experiencing a historic heat wave that had been responsible for at least 3,000 deaths in France alone in the summer of 2003. The heat wave raised concerns over global warming and, in particular, Europe’s readiness for climate change. The intensity of the heat, as well as its duration, wrought havoc on the unprepared European population. The AIS is important for the reproduction biology of important pelagic commercial fish species, so the heatwave may have influenced indirectly the stocks of these species. Due to a number of deaths, the UK government released its Heat Health Watch system, issuing warnings if temperatures rise above 30 °C in the day and 15 °C at night. In Paris, where it was much warmer, 506 out of 735 deaths were attributable to global warming. An 18-day heat wave in July 2006 rivaled 2003’s in its intensity, killing some 2,000 people in France. In Portugal, the temperatures reached as high as 47 °C (117 °F) in the south. In Findel, Luxembourg, the temperature reached 37.9 °C (100.2 °F) between 8 and 12 August, making it the country's highest temperature since records began in 1947. ... was responsible for a large number of the deaths. The heat wave and smog period of 2003 were of longer duration than in the past. NOW 50% OFF! During summer 2003, the early onset of hot weather, unusually high temperatures, and prolonged heat-stress conditions caused extreme peaks in mortality throughout Europe. [11][failed verification] 1 August 2003 was the hottest day in centuries, with night temperatures well above 30 °C (86 °F). In raw numbers, climate change caused 64 of the 315 deaths that London experienced during the heat wave. These divergent figures indicate that a global assessment of excess mortality is difficult, if not impossible, because no standardized estimates across European countries have been made for the 2003 heat wave . France: More than 10,000 dead in record heat wave By Francis Dubois 22 August 2003 The unprecedented heat wave in Europe has caused many deaths across … Crops in Southern Europe suffered the most from drought. A new nationwide record temperature of 41.5 °C (106.7 °F) was recorded in Grono, Graubünden.[27]. The heatwave greatly accelerated the ripening of grapes; also, the heat dehydrated the grapes, making for more concentrated juice. Record temperatures are being recorded as warnings pile up. As a result of summer 2003, an alert system was introduced in France which aims to warn people about expected highs and avoid more deaths. The number of people dying in the heat in 2020 was comparable to the 2,234 excess deaths seen during the 2003 Europe-wide heatwave and the 2,323 who died in the heatwave in 2006, PHE said. An estimated 15,000 heat-related deaths were reported in France following the 2003 summer heat wave. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. [citation needed]. In France, 14,802 heat-related deaths (mostly among the elderly) occurred during the heat wave, according to the French National Institute of Health. Heat waves must be considered as a threat to European populations living in climates that are currently temperate. [15] The highest temperature recorded this heatwave was on 7 August, when in Arcen, in Limburg, a temperature of 37.8 °C (100.0 °F) was reached, 0.8 °C below the national record (since 1904). France has adopted strict heat wave guidelines since the summer of 2003, when between 15,000 and 19,000 people died as a result of extreme temperatures – many of … In the first quantitative climate change attribution assessment, researchers found that human influence at least doubled the risk of a heatwave exceeding the threshold passed during the extreme European heat wave of 2003. The wines from 2003, although in scarce quantity, are predicted to have exceptional quality, especially in France. No more. Elderly persons living by themselves had never faced such extreme heat before and did not know how to react or were too mentally or physically impaired by the heat to make the necessary adaptations themselves. The number of people dying in the heat in 2020 was comparable to the 2,234 excess deaths seen during the 2003 Europe-wide heatwave and the 2,323 who died in the heatwave in 2006, PHE said. Forest fires raged across western Europe as weakened trees and dry underbrush fed the flames. https://web.archive.org/web/20051013071340/http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/~swrmethn/summer2003/heatwave2003_reading_incfigs.pdf, WMO: Unprecedented sequence of extreme weather events – News – Professional Resources – PreventionWeb.net, http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/2006/Update56.htm, http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/2006/Update56_data.htm, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/fr.html, "Historical stats for Auxerre August 2003", "Forte chaleur au Luxembourg - Record de la température maximale pour le mois de juillet", "KNMI – Daggegevens van het weer in Nederland", "La ola de calor de 2003 coincidió con un incremento de 13.000 muertes", "Valores extremos – Agencia Estatal de Meteorología – AEMET. 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