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The large part of the fatalities (more than 85 %) in the period 1981-2020 is attributed to heatwaves. The heatwave of 2003 caused most fatalities: between 50 and 75 % of all fatalities from weather and climate-related events over the last 4 decades. As heatwave fatalities are is indirectly measured through excess mortality estimates that are also influenced by other non climatic factors, numbers between data sources differ significantly.


According to the World Meteorological Organisation, weather-related disasters increased globally over past 50 years, causing more damage but fewer deaths. Almost every study of significant heatwaves since 2015 has found that probability has been significantly increased by anthropogenic climate change. The attribution of drought events to anthropogenic factors is not as clear as for heatwaves because of natural variability caused by large oceanic and atmospheric oscillations. The trends in global data on losses and fatalities are less clear in data for Europe only. Statistically, 3% of the total number of climate and weather extreme events are responsible for around 60% of the losses over the period 1980-2020 and there are large inter-annual variabilities and differences between datasets. The CATDAT data show steadily increasing average annual (inflation-corrected) total losses over the decades from EUR 10.0 billion (1981-1990) till EUR 14.7 billion (2011-2020). In the NatCatSERVICE data the highest annual losses are registered in the decade 2001-2010 with EUR 13.1 billion and no increasing linear trend is seen (see Figure 2c and 2d).

Previous comments

  • minnen (Jelle Van Minnen) 21 Nov 2021 21:40:19
    • this attribution issue is of course important. But should that be part of this factsheet? If so, it could be more detailed. 
    • I this paragraph the impression is given that there is a increasing trend, especially globally, but also European. In the key message 4 is is stated "Trends in losses do not indicate any significant change over the period 1980-2020". Not consistent, to my opinion. 
  • sjostasa (Asa Sjöström) 09 Dec 2021 09:30:07

    The attribution of deaths to heatwaves and climate change is very interesting, and it would be nice to find out more what lies behind the differences - if that is within the scope of the paper. 

  • sjostasa (Asa Sjöström) 09 Dec 2021 10:23:01

    Could you add some references here? It is difficult to state that "almost every study" agree on something - better perhaps to quote the IPCC?

    Again, the differences between the data sets is (perhaps) interesting - but is that what we want to explore here? If not, what are we actually saying with this information? To say that there is a difference, but not explain why, just makes me as a reader confused. What should I take home from this text?

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