Calculation of the effects of heat waves with and without adaptation measures

With the advent of climate change, heat waves will become more common and more extreme, but they have already been the cause of many deaths in Sweden. Such effects would be largely preventable through the implementation of adaptation measures. Forecast-based warning systems, contingency plans for emergency response by specially trained health and social care personnel, the adaptation of buildings and the wider social environment, together with better public information, are key measures in this context.

The tool is envisaged for use by those with responsibilities in the fields of health and social care, public health, environmental protection, urban planning and adaptation to climate change.

With the aid of this tool, one can quantify the consequences of heat waves of varying severity (characterised by temperature and duration) in terms of the number of deaths and the possibility of reducing these effects through the implementation of adaptation measures. Effect assumptions are based on scientific studies and the basic frequencies have been extracted from national records.

Using this tool it is possible to calculate the number of additional deaths within a certain population (county, municipality etc) that a heat wave with certain characteristics (temperature and duration) would lead to, both with and without particular preventive measures (adaptation). In this way it is now possible to estimate the magnitude of the risks, the need for adaptation measures, and the usefulness of such measures in the event of a heat wave.

The tool has been demonstrated at a number of meetings and conferences on adaptation to climate change. Estimates have been made using the computation tool on occasions including a test of the tool in the Skåne region attended by representatives from a number of municipalities in Skåne in June 2011.

Contact person
Bertil Forsberg
Umeå Universitet

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