By Sean Zucker –
There is documentation of the negative effects of extra hot days. The World Health Organization warns that hotter-than-average weather conditions can alter the body’s ability to regulate temperature, raising the risk of illnesses like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and hyperthermia. But new evidence points to the deadliest impact arrives after the sun goes down. A recent study suggests that hotter nights are increasing mortality rates.
Recent multinational research published in Lancet Planetary Health predicts that by the end of the century, hotter nights may contribute to a 60-percent increase in the global mortality rate.
“We project at least a doubling intensity of hot night with higher increase in mortality burden due to hot nights, suggesting a growing role of night-time warming in heat-related health effects in a changing climate,” the study warned.
The study by researchers in China, South Korea, Japan, Germany and the United States claims that hot nights can disturb sleep patterns as the body tries to cool itself down. It leads to adverse effects on the immune system—contributing to the probability of developing cardiovascular disease and other potentially fatal chronic illnesses. The authors also note warmer nightly temps can deteriorate mental health, resulting in more prevalent psychological issues.
The globe-trotting team reached its conclusions by first collecting the historical mortality and temperature data from 28 cities across China, Japan and Korea from 1981 to 2010. The researchers looked at the daily death records from each city’s local disease center and compared them with weather records. These comparisons allowed the team to establish a correlation between hot nights and higher mortality rates. The group then analyzed weather projections for the next 80 years to determine the possible deadly extent of warmer nights.
The study’s conclusions are more concerning because the Earth is getting warmer. NOAA Climate.gov, a federal database that provides records and information about climate science, notes that temperatures have been rising at escalating levels for years. NOAA has reported that during the last 160 years, the Earth’s temperature rose on average 0.14 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. In the past 60 years, however, the rate of warming has more than doubled to 0.32 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. This trend is only likely to continue as 2021 was the sixth-warmest year on record, and all nine years leading up to 2021 ranked among the ten warmest years on record.
What do hotter nights mean? More sweaty, sleepless nights, which means people worldwide need to prepare. “To combat the health risk raised by the temperature increases from climate change, we should design efficient ways to help people adapt,” reported Dr. Yuqiang Zhang, one of the study’s authors. “Locally, heat during the night should be taken into account when designing the future heatwave warning system, especially for vulnerable populations and low-income communities who may not be able to afford the additional expense of air conditioning.”