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The Rising Risk and Magnitude of Heatwaves under Global Warming

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Heatwaves are known as “silent killers” and have long-lasting impacts on societies and businesses in terms of electricity shortages due to higher consumption rates, limited business operations due to shutdowns, crop failures as a consequence of less resistant abilities, and heat strokes with health implications. In a rapidly changing world where meeting the 1.5-degree agenda seems less likely, the situation becomes worst with rising temperatures.

For instance, the heatwaves in South Asian countries due to climate change are now 30 times more likely to be experienced. In India and Pakistan, global warming is expected to make record-breaking temperatures more frequent as reported by an early investigation report from a global joint venture.

Surface air temperatures, May 2022
Heatwaves, June 2023

Zeke Hausfather, climate scientist and researcher at Berkeley Earth, noted that the likelihood of the heatwave occurring is increased due to climate change to once every 100 years. In pre-industrial times, the odds of such an event would have been once every 3,000 years. Thanks to the post-industrial carbon emissions and consequent climate change, heatwaves are 1°C warmer than in pre-industrial times. Fail to limit to the 2 °C above pre-industrial levels threshold, and the planet will be expected to face similar heatwaves 2-20 times more likely than the one experienced recently (with 0.5-1.5 °C hotter intensity) — narrate the report.

Through cascading impacts, such extreme events pressurize daily life and businesses along with triggering further disasters, such as droughts. Hence, business interruptions under heatwaves require higher resolution and reliable intel to adapt to such extreme events and reduce the possible impacts.

Business interruptions under heatwaves require higher resolution and reliable intel to adapt to such extreme events and reduce the possible impacts.

In particular, the construction industry where workers need to perform tasks outside, energy sectors, and transportation businesses due to lesser commuters are among the most vulnerable groups to unprecedented heatwaves.

From a financial standpoint, the heatwave spell impacts translate into an annualized loss of sales of about 0.63 percent and a profit margin decrease of approximately 0.16 percent for a one-degree increase in heat spell temperature above a critical level.

Similarly, stock prices drop by approximately 22 basis points in response to a similar shift in heat spell temperature, as reported by Griffin and colleagues in their recent findings.

Global Heatwaves
Global Heatwaves

It is essential for businesses to adapt to climate risks and rely on science-backed strategies to cope with future heatwaves under the global warming. This requires an early integration of current and future heatwave information in the climate adaptation plans of companies.

Using AI and machine learning-assisted deep climate scenario modelling, Intensel provides practical and timely insights into short- and long-term heatwave dynamics. The availability of such valuable information enables our clients to protect and insure their assets in high-risk areas along with adapting to changing climatic conditions for a sustainable business.


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