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Manhattan Could Face a Soar in Heat-Related Deaths Due to Global Warming

Update Date: May 20, 2013 04:02 PM EDT

Global warming has constantly been on the radar of researchers looking to observe the patterns and trends in climate changes. By understanding how global warming and greenhouse gases affect temperature changes, researchers can make calculated predictions and estimations of future weather and potential threats. In a new study, researchers reported that Manhattan, NY could face a soar in heat-related deaths within the next decades.

According to the scientists, headed by Radley Horton and Patrick Kinney, by the 2020s, the rate of heat-related deaths could increase by nearly 20 percent in this particular city. By the 2080s, this percentage could soar up to 90 percent, which equals to nearly 1,000 deaths per year within this city. The researchers concluded their findings after utilizing two different backdrops and previous history regarding deaths due to overheating. The first backdrop represented the worst-case scenario in which population growth was rapid and greenhouse gas emissions unlimited. The second backdrop represented a slower population growth with changes that would limit greenhouse gas emissions. From these two backdrops, the researchers created 16 different global climate models with the baseline set in the 1980s, where 370 people died from the heat and 340 people died from the cold within New York City.

"This serves as reminder that heat events are one of the greatest hazards faced by urban populations around the globe," said Horton who is also a climate scientist at the Earth Institute's Centre for Climate Systems Research.

Based from these statistics and climate models, the researchers predicted the average increase in temperature. From 1901 to 2000, the average monthly increase in temperature in Manhattan was 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The researchers projected that by the 2050s, average temperature will be up by 4.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the fact that these findings suggest that heat-related deaths might increase, the researchers also acknowledged the fact that winter would slowly become warmer, decreasing the rate of deaths related to the cold. Although these numbers and projections are just estimations, having an idea of what the weather could be like in the future based off of data could help with preventative measures.

"This points to the need for cities to look for ways to make themselves and their people more resilient to heat," said Kinney, an environmental scientist at the Mailman School.

The study was published in the journal, Nature Climate Change

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