According to an estimate by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), around 4,500 people died in Germany this summer as a result of the heat. The number of heat-related deaths this year is at a similar level to 2015, 2019 and 2020, according to the publication. In 2021, 1,900 people died from the heat, compared to 3,600 the year before.
The analysis showed that while the south had the most heat weeks, it did not have the most heat-related deaths. In the south, around 1,400 people died from the heat this summer, in the west there were even 2,000. Something similar had already been observed in 2018. "One reason for these differences is probably the better heat adaptation in regions where hotter summers also occurred in the past," the authors speculate.
Cause of death often complex
The reasons for heat-related deaths are varied, ranging from heat stroke to more complex constellations, such as in people with pre-existing cardiovascular or lung diseases. It is therefore difficult to record the total number of deaths caused by heat.
For their evaluation, the experts estimated the heat-related deaths in Germany on the basis of the deaths and the measured temperatures. They have calculated the reported corona deaths for their evaluation.
Compared to the long-term average, the summer of 2022 was the sunniest and fourth warmest since records began, according to the study. There were many hot weeks in 2022, comparable to the record summer of 2018. "It can be assumed that climate change will continue to lead to more periods of extreme heat in Germany in the future, which can entail far-reaching health risks," write the author and the author. Prompt monitoring can help identify risks and take action.