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Summer is getting hotter and not everyone will survive this.

Summer is getting hotter and not everyone will survive this.

We are expecting such a hot summer that not everyone will survive – Mashelvok writesAlthough you can regularly read in the comments that people write that there is no climate change, because it has been warm for a long time, according to Másfélfok's research, it is not that simple.

For example, since until the 1990s, there were only a few days when severe heat stress hit Hungary during the period examined (May-September). However, in 2007, we almost reached the life-threatening sensation of heat of more than 46 degrees, the trend can be observed that heat waves have become more frequent and intense in the last 50 years, and it can also be shown statistically that human activity is responsible for this.

Heat stress is mainly determined not only by the number of degrees outside, but also by the humidity of the air, whether a person is exposed to direct sunlight, and whether the wind is blowing. That is why, for example, although the temperature has not been very high in recent weeks, we have often felt heat stress due to the humidity and weak wind.

The study’s authors, climate researcher Peter Szabo, a doctoral student in ELTE’s Department of Meteorology and a former National Weather Service and National Adaptation Center expert, and Rita Pongrash, a meteorologist, hydrologist, and PhD in Earth Sciences and an assistant professor in ELTE’s Department of Meteorology, focused primarily on the frequency of extreme heat stress days (i.e., when the temperature was above 38 degrees) and their severity, i.e., the number of degrees of stress in degrees Celsius, was examined.

“Feeling hot is pleasant if the index value is less than 26°C, while between 26-32°C we can talk about moderate heat stress, and between 32-38°C we can talk about high heat stress.”

– they wrote in their study published in the journal Mašálfofok.

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A temperature above 46 degrees is considered life-threatening, but that's not unusual in Hungary at the moment – not like, say, India or Saudi Arabia, where hundreds of people have died from extreme heat.

Heat stress in the past and future decades

According to the researchers’ analysis, from 1971 to the mid-1990s, there were only a few days in July and August that could be dangerous for heat stress. By comparison, since the end of the 2000s, this kind of thing has happened more and more often, and has already appeared once or twice in September. They found that although 2022 was the hottest summer on record, there were not as many extremely hot days as the record years of 2015 or 2012, for example.

Nowadays, we have to prepare for days of extreme heat stress almost every summer, and their intensity and the size of the affected area in the country are increasing. In 2007, there was the greatest heat stress that lasted for several days, when the temperature exceeded 40 degrees in a fifth of the country. Although the absolute record is 41.9 degrees, the heat felt there was around 43-44 degrees, which is almost life-threatening.

The warmest part of the country is of course the southeast, in the Alföld region, and it will get worse. If current emission trends continue, we can expect a continued increase in extreme values.

“So much so that by the end of the century, temperatures could reach 45 degrees Celsius in the southeastern Great Plain, meaning life-threatening heat stress will occur for several years.”

However, if we stick to the climate targets set out in the Paris Agreement, which is a very optimistic scenario, we can only expect a slight increase, not maximum volatile pressure.

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If this happens, the most affected part of the country will experience 2-3 days of heat stress per year, but following the current trend, we should prepare for at least a tenfold increase by the end of the century.

It's not just sweaty, it's deadly.

People living in Budapest and larger cities are particularly vulnerable to heat stress, as the streets cannot cool down even at night due to the urban heat island effect. This is particularly dangerous for those with cardiovascular diseases, the elderly and children, and can be fatal.

“One In a previous study It showed that in the extreme year of 2012, heat waves in Hungary increased deaths by 30 percent, while in 2015, the year with the second-hottest heatwave days, deaths increased by 17 percent.

– Authors' writing.

Using the example of Szeged, the authors show what the situation might look like if it worsens. Currently, two-thirds of the days in May and September fall into the pleasant category, so they are stress-free. However, in July and August, “at least one-third of the days are exposed to high heat stress.” This will get worse by 2100 if the emissions situation does not improve. In July, for example, there will be no pleasant days, and for one-third of the month, the inhabitants of Szeged will be exposed to high heat stress. Moreover, this category will appear even in May, albeit at a reduced rate. If the worst-case scenario comes to pass, life-threatening heat stress will also occur in the city in July and August.

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According to the authors, due to the change, it would be useful to reconsider the heat warning classifications, and they should not only be linked to temperatures, but also to heat stress. In addition, it would be possible to prepare for the effects of heat by properly insulating buildings, as well as by increasing green and water areas in urban areas. Not to mention that it could also have a serious impact on animal husbandry.

However, they wrote, the real solution is to reduce emissions “to avoid massive health, migration or food stress on future generations.”

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