The Eastern Mediterranean region will experience a sevenfold increase in extreme heatwaves by the end of the 21st century, according to Israeli and German researchers writing in the Science of the Total Environment journal.
They also predict a threefold increase in the duration of these heatwaves, and a tenfold increase in mortality rates as a direct consequence.
The study was led by Assaf Hochman, a senior climatologist at Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Earth Sciences, in collaboration with Prof. Joaquim Pinto and Marcel Wedler at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany.
Israel sits at the geographic center of 22 countries comprising the greater Eastern Mediterranean region. The core countries are Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and the Greek Dodecanese Islands.
“The symptoms of global warming are felt around the world, and with the Mediterranean region a ‘climate change hotspot,’ Israelis are at heightened risk,” said Hochman.
“We believe that health data should be opened to the scientific community to increase collaboration between the academic world and relevant government ministries in the Mediterranean region so that we can shift policies and double our efforts into monitoring and managing extreme weather events,” he added.
The three authors concluded that heatwaves “increasingly threaten society in the vulnerable Eastern Mediterranean. We also emphasize that true interdisciplinary regional collaborations are required to achieve adequate public health adaptation to extreme weather events in a changing climate.”
The study was funded by Israel’s Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Technology; the German Helmholtz Association’s “Changing Earth” program; and the AXA Research Fund.