, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 291-299
Date: 10 Oct 2007

Time trends in minimum mortality temperatures in Castile-La Mancha (Central Spain): 1975–2003

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Abstract

The relationship between air temperature and human mortality is described as non-linear, with mortality tending to rise in response to increasingly hot or cold ambient temperatures from a given minimum mortality or optimal comfort temperature, which varies from some areas to others according to their climatic and socio-demographic characteristics. Changes in these characteristics within any specific region could modify this relationship. This study sought to examine the time trend in the maximum temperature of minimum organic-cause mortality in Castile-La Mancha, from 1975 to 2003. The analysis was performed by using daily series of maximum temperatures and organic-cause mortality rates grouped into three decades (1975–1984, 1985–1994, 1995–2003) to compare confidence intervals (p < 0.05) obtained by estimating the 10-yearly mortality rates corresponding to the maximum temperatures of minimum mortality calculated for each decade. Temporal variations in the effects of cold and heat on mortality were ascertained by means of ARIMA models (Box-Jenkins) and cross-correlation functions (CCF) at seven lags. We observed a significant decrease in comfort temperature (from 34.2°C to 27.8°C) between the first two decades in the Province of Toledo, along with a growing number of significant lags in the summer CFF (1, 3 and 5, respectively). The fall in comfort temperature is attributable to the increase in the effects of heat on mortality, due, in all likelihood, to the percentage increase in the elderly population.