Record-Breaking Temperatures Kill Dozens in Japan
The country will be using a colorblind-friendly heat map in the future to keep more citizens safe.
More than 200 people died in Japan earlier this month in floods caused by torrential rain, but the extreme weather hitting the country is showing no signs of letting up. Now, a record-breaking heat wave has claimed dozens of lives since July 9, with thousands hospitalized for heat-related ailments.
As temperatures continue to surge above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius), the Japan Meteorological Agency issued active heat warnings in 39 of the country’s 47 prefectures.
Citizens have been urged to stay cool and hydrated and the Ministry of Environment is taking steps to ensure that everyone stays informed of the weather and its potential dangers, it announced on Wednesday.
Currently, the agency uses a Wet Bulb Globe Temperature index to mark heat stroke danger zones in read and safe zones in green and blue, but for the 3 million Japanese people affected by colorblindness, the system is largely ineffective. Starting next year, the ministry will introduce colorblind-friendly tones into the heat map to ensure that people are able to glean the information they need to stay safe quickly.
People with colorblindness aren’t the only citizens the Japanese government is concerned about. As temperatures continue to climb, the country’s substantial elderly population is also at risk as pre-existing and chronic medical conditions can be exacerbated by the heat.
At least 77 people have died of heat-related causes in the past month and the majority of them have been elderly people, the Straits Times reported.
At noon today, temperatures in Tokyo topped 40 degrees Celsius for the first time since the Japan Meteorological Agency began measuring. How are some people still walking around outside in their business jackets?! https://t.co/AMJWZEJhmc— Aby Wijaya (@abywijaya) July 23, 2018
The higher-than-average temperatures are expected to last through August, and while the sweltering heat is caused by a high-pressure heat dome over the region, experts point to climate change as a driver of the historically high temperatures.
“It’s easier to set extreme heat records when the baseline is pretty darn warm,” meteorologist Jeff Masters told Earther.
This year is anticipated to be the fourth-warmest year on record and though 2018 is just over halfway through, the heat is being felt in many places around the world.
Pakistan was struck by deadly heat waves in May, at least 34 heat-related deaths were reported in Quebec, Canada, in July, and Sweden struggled to contain more than 50 forest blazes, including a dozen in the Arctic circle.