Evidence that increasing temperatures leads to increased mortality and morbidity is well documented, with population vulnerability being location specific. Especially the 2003 heat wave in Europe raised the awareness of negative impacts of heat stress on human health in Austria. Increased incidence of heat waves leads to an increase in heat stress, especially in urban areas; the intensification of the heat-island effect is to be expected.
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The city of Antwerp, in order to better understand the problem of heat stress, commissioned the research organization VITO to map the current and future temperatures and thermal comfort in the city. The research results indicate that the urban heat island of Antwerp exacerbates the impact of climate change on the urban population as the amount of heatwave days in the city raises twice as fast as in the rural surroundings. To tackle the problem of heat stress in the city, adaptation measures at three different scales (city-wide, local and the individual citizen) are put forth.
The 19th century industrialisation in Lodz heavily affected the city’s rivers, altering their ecosystems and hydrology. Many rivers in the densely built-up city were canalized. This resulted in a higher flood risk from runoff during heavy rain periods. Low water retention also implies reduction of soil moisture during dry spells, contributing to higher temperature and reduced air humidity (urban heat island). Based on climate change projections, it is expected that the intensity of heavy rain periods and higher temperatures will increase and exacerbate these problems.
Stuttgart’s location in a valley basin, its mild climate, low wind speeds, industrial activity and high volume of traffic has made the city highly susceptible to poor air quality. Development on the valley slopes has prevented air from moving through the city, worsening air quality and contributing to the urban heat island effect. A Climate Atlas was developed for the Stuttgart region, presenting the distribution of temperature and cold air flows according to the city’s topography and land use.
High temperatures and heatwaves in the summer pose increasing risks to people living in Slovakian cities. In particular older people and children, those living on top floors in poorly insulated buildings, and those relying on facilities such as nurseries, schools or care homes are prone to heat stress. The Carpathian Development Institute, in collaboration with local authorities in Trnava and Košice, carried out an assessment of vulnerability to high temperatures and heatwaves in residential environment, taking into account the social aspects.
Demographic change and climate change together place great challenges on the society. The life expectancy of the population in Germany rises and so does the share of older people. Besides chronic patients and children, the elderly are especially affected by the effects of the climate change. At the same time more and more people live in single person households (increase from 14.56 million in 2004 to 16.83 million in 2016 in Germany), which can influence their social isolation.
In 2003, a 10 day heatwave period caused over 2,000 excess deaths (compared to the same dates in the previous five years) in UK. As a response, the heatwave plan for England was first issued in 2014 and has since undergone annual updates (last update in May 2016 has not introduced changes to 2015 version that therefore it is the one still valid). The plan intends to protect the population from heat-related harm to health. It aims to prepare for, alert people to, and prevent, the major avoidable effects on health during periods of severe heat.
The National Heat-Health Action Plan (HHAP) of North Macedonia was developed in 2011 and approved in 2012, following the National Climate Change Health Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan. The HHAP aims to decrease morbidity and mortality connected with extreme temperatures and heatwaves.
The county of Sogn og Fjordane frequently experiences avalanches and landslides, storm surges and flooding. Due to climate change and related impacts on extreme weather events above hazards are expected to be exacerbated; more extensive adaptation strategies and measures are therefore needed.
The City of Tatabánya has a Local Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, approved in 2008, which have been implemented to address diverse climate hazards, which mainly impact people’s health (e.g. heatwaves and heat stress, UV radiation, forest fires).