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Killer heat worsens

Killer heat is getting worse, a new study shows.

Deadly heat waves like the one now broiling the American West are bigger killers than previously thought and they are going to grow more frequent, according to a new comprehensive study of fatal heat conditions. Still, those stretches may be less lethal in the future, as people become accustomed to them.

A team of researchers examined 1,949 deadly heat waves from around the world since 1980 to look for trends, define when heat is so severe it kills and forecast the future. They found that nearly one in three people now experience 20 days a year when the heat reaches deadly levels. But the study predicts that up to three in four people worldwide will endure that kind of heat by the end of the century, if global warming continues unabated.

"The United States is going to be an oven," said Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii, lead author of a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change .

The study comes as much of the U.S. swelters through extended triple-digit heat. Temperatures hit records of 106, 105 and 103 in Santa Rosa, Livermore and San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, as a heat wave was forecast to continue through midweek. In late May, temperatures in Turbat, Pakistan, climbed to about 128 degrees (53.5 C); if confirmed, that could be among the five hottest temperatures reliably measured on Earth.

"This is already bad. We already know it," Mora said. "The empirical data suggest it's getting much worse."



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