Last summer's record-breaking heatwave killed 61,000 people in Europe

The Met Office has warned British tourists that southern Europe will reach "unusually high temperatures" this week, as ITV News' Weather Presenter Alex Beresford explains

Record-breaking temperatures in Europe last summer contributed to more than 61,000 deaths, new research has found.

Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Spain among the most impacted by the 2022 heatwave, a study said.

The study, published on Monday in the Nature Medicine journal temperatures in Europe are rising faster than the global average due to climate warming.

The data comes as the Met Office warned British tourists that southern Europe will reach "unusually high temperatures" this week, and Spanish authorities said that the country could see temperatures of up to 44C.

Last year was Europe's hottest summer on record and researchers calculated that there were 61,672 heat-related deaths on the continent during this period.

This is close to the continent's 2003 death toll - Europe's most fatal summer to date.

The researchers also found 63% more women than men died due to heat last summer.

They added that this huge disparity can partly be explained by the fact there are significantly more elderly women than men in Europe's worst impacted countries (elderly people are especially vulnerable to extreme heat).

The Mediterranean region had the highest death rate, the study showed: Italy, Greece and Spain were hit the hardest.

There were 3,469 heat-related deaths in the UK, or 52 deaths per million people, last summer.

The data also indicated that measures taken in France since 2003's heatwave may have helped prevent deaths there in 2022.

France’s warning system includes public announcements with advice on how to stay cool and encouraging people to drink water and avoid alcohol.

In almost all regions of the world, heatwaves have increased in frequency, duration and intensity.

The periods of extreme heat used to occur roughly once every 10 years before industrialisation - now they're expected once every three-and-a-half years due to global warming.

Governments in Spain and Germany recently announced new measures to address the effects of hot weather on their populations. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, a group of seniors is citing the danger posed to older women by intense heat in a court case seeking to force the government to take tougher climate action.

Hicham Achebak, a co-author of the study said: "The fact that more than 61,600 people in Europe died of heat stress in the summer of 2022, even though, unlike in 2003, many countries already had active prevention plans in place, suggests that the adaptation strategies currently available may still be insufficient.

"The acceleration of warming observed over the last ten years underlines the urgent need to reassess and substantially strengthen prevention plans, paying particular attention to the differences between European countries and regions, as well as the age and gender gaps, which currently mark the differences in vulnerability to heat."

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