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Rising global temperatures are causing increases in the frequency and severity of extreme climatic events such as floods, droughts, and heatwaves. Here, we analyze changes in summer temperatures, the frequency, severity and duration of heatwaves, and heat-related mortality in India between 1960 and 2009, using data from the India Meteorological Department. Mean temperatures across India have risen by more than 0.5 °C over this period, with statistically significant increases in heatwaves. Using a novel probabilistic model, we further show that the increase in summer mean temperatures in India over this period corresponds to a 146% increase in the probability of heat-related mortality events of more than 100 people. In turn, our results suggest that future climate warming will lead to substantial increases in heat-related mortality, particularly in developing, low-latitude countries such as India where heatwaves will become more frequent and populations are especially vulnerable to these extreme temperatures. Our findings indicate that even moderate increases in mean temperatures may cause great increases in heat-related mortality, and support efforts of governments and international organizations to build-up the resilience of these vulnerable regions to more and more severe heatwaves.


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This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Science Advances, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Copyright restrictions may apply. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1700066