International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 56, Issue 6, pp 1135–1144 | Cite as

The impact of future summer temperature on public health in Barcelona and Catalonia, Spain

  • Bart OstroEmail author
  • Jose Barrera-Gómez
  • Joan Ballester
  • Xavier Basagaña
  • Jordi Sunyer
Original Paper


Several epidemiological studies have reported associations between increases in summer temperatures and risks of premature mortality. The quantitative implications of predicted future increases in summer temperature, however, have not been extensively characterized. We have quantified these effects for the four main cities in Catalonia, Spain (Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida, Girona). We first used case-crossover analysis to estimate the association between temperature and mortality for each of these cities for the period 1983 to 2006. These exposure–response (ER) functions were then combined with local measures of current and projected changes in population, mortality and temperature for the years 2025 and 2050. Predicted daily mean temperatures were based on the A1B greenhouse gas emission, “business-as-usual” scenario simulations derived from the ENSEMBLES project. Several different ER functions were examined and significant associations between temperature and mortality were observed for all four cities. For these four cities, the age-specific piecewise linear model predicts 520 (95%CI  340, 720) additional annual deaths attributable to the change in temperature in 2025 relative to the average from the baseline period of 1960–1990. For 2050, the estimate increases to 1,610 deaths per year during the warm season. For Catalonia as a whole, the point estimates for those two years are 720 and 2,330 deaths per year, respectively, or about 2 and 3% of the warm season. In comparing these predicted impacts with current causes of mortality, they clearly represent significant burdens to public health in Catalonia.


Climate change Temperature Heat waves Mortality Morbidity Health Impacts 


  1. Almeida SP, Elsa Casimiro E, Calheiros J (2010) Effects of apparent temperature on daily mortality in Lisbon and Oporto, Portugal. Environ Heal 9:12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson BG, Bell ML (2009) Weather-related mortality: how heat, cold, and heat waves affect mortality in the United States. Epidemiology 20:205–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baccini M, Biggeri A, Accetta G et al (2008) Heat effects on mortality in 15 European cities. Epidemiol 19(5):711–719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnett AG, Tong S, Clements ACA (2010) What measure of temperature is the best predictor of mortality? Environ Res 110:604–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baccini M et al (2011) Impact of heat on mortality in 15 European cities: attributable deaths under different weather scenarios. J Epidemiol Commun Heal 65:64–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Basagaña X, Sartini C, Barrera-Gómez J, Dadvand P, Cunillera J, Ostro B, Sunyer J, Medina-Ramón M (2011) Heat waves and cause-specific mortality in adults and infants. Epidemiol 22:765–772CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Basu R (2009) High ambient temperature and mortality: a review of epidemiologic studies from 2001 to 2008. Environ Heal 8:40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Basu R, Ostro BD (2008) A multicounty analysis identifying the populations vulnerable to mortality associated with high ambient temperature in California. Am J Epidemiol 168(6):632–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bell ML, O’Neill MS et al (2008) Vulnerability to heat-related mortality in Latin America: a case-crossover study in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Santiago, Chile and Mexico City, Mexico. Int J Epidemiol 37(4):796–804Google Scholar
  10. Curriero FC, Heiner KS, Samet JM, Zeger SL, Strug L, Patz JA (2002) Temperature and mortality in 11 cities of the eastern United States. Am J Epidemiol 155:80–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Daly C, Gibson WP, Taylor GH, Johnson GL, Pasteris P (2002) A knowledge-based approach to the statistical mapping of climate. Clim Res 22:99–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Déqué et al (2007) An intercomparison of regional climate simulations for Europe: assessing uncertainties in model projections. Clim Chang 81:53–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. D’Ippoliti D, Michelozzi P, Marino C et al (2010) The impact of heat waves on mortality in 9 European cities: results from the EuroHEAT project. Environ Heal 9:37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ebi KL, Mills DM, Smith JB, Grambsch A (2006) Climate change and human health impacts in the United States: an update on the results of the U.S. National Assessment. Environ Heal Perspect 114:1318/24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fischer EM, Schär C (2010) Consistent geographical patterns of changes in high-impact European heatwaves. Nat Geosci 3:398–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fouillet A, Rey G, Laurent F et al (2006) Excess mortality related to the August 2003 heat wave in France. Int Arch Occup Environ Heal 80:16–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Giorgi F (2006) Climate change hot-spots. Geophys Res Lett 33:L08707. doi: 10.1029/2006GL025734 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goodman PG, Dockery DW, Clancy L (2004) Cause-specific mortality and the extended effects of particulate pollution and temperature exposure. Environ Heal Perspect 112:179–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gosling SN et al (2009a) Associations between elevated atmospheric temperature and human mortality: a critical review of the literature. Climate Change 92:299–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gosling S, McGregor G, Lowe J (2009b) Climate change and heat-related mortality in six cities. Part 2: climate model evaluation and projected impacts from chagne sin the mean and variability of temperature with climate change. Int J Biometeorol 53:31–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gosling S, McGregor G, Lowe J (2011) The benefits of quantifying climate model uncertainty in climate impacts assessment: an example with heat-related mortality change estimates. Clim Change. doi: 10.1007/s10584-011-0211-9
  22. Hajat S, Kovats RS, Lachowycz K (2007) Heat-related and cold-related deaths in England and Wales: who is at risk? Occup Environ Med 64:93–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Haylock MR, Hofstra N, Klein Tank AMG, Klok EJ, Jones PD, New M (2008) A European daily high-resolution gridded dataset of surface temperature and precipitation. J Geophys Res-Atmos 113:D20119. doi: 10.1029/2008JD10201 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huang C, Barnett AG, Want X, Vaneckova P, FitzGerald G, Tong S (2011) Projecting future heat-related mortality under climate change scenarios: a systematic review. Environ Heal Perspect 119:1681–1690CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Huynen MM, Martens P, Schram D et al (2001) The impact of heat waves and cold spells on mortality rates in the Dutch population. Environ Heal Perspect 109:463–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Iñiguez C, Ballester F, Ferrandiz et al (2010) Relation between temperature and mortality in thirteen Spanish cities. Int K Environ Res Public Heal 7:3196–3210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Institut d’Estadística de Catalunya (Idescat) (2011). Available at Accessed 15 February 2012
  28. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007) Climate change 2007: synthesis report. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  29. IPCC WGI (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Tignor KBM, Miller HL (eds). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USAGoogle Scholar
  30. Jacob D et al (2008) Information on observations, global and regional modelling data availability and statistical downscaling. ENSEMBLES Technical Report No. 4, pp 10Google Scholar
  31. Kinney P, O’Neill MS, Bell ML, Schwartz J (2008) Approaches for estimating effects of climate change on heat-related deaths: challenges and opportunities. Environ Sci Policy 11:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Knowlton K et al (2007) Projecting heat-related mortality impacts under a changing climate in the New York City region. Am J Public Health 97:2028–2034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Levy D et al (2001) Referent selection in case-crossover analyses of acute health effects of air pollution. Epidemiology 12:186–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McMichael AJ, Wilkinson P et al (2008) International study of temperature, heat and urban mortality: the ‘ISOTHURM’ project. Int J Epidemiol 37(5):1121–1131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Michelozzi P et al (2006) Temperature and summer mortality: geographical and temporal variations in four Italian cities. J Epidemiol Commun Heal 60:417–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nakicenovic N et al (2000) Special report on emissions scenarios: a special report of working group III of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge, UK, pp 509Google Scholar
  37. National Research Council (2002) Estimating the public health benefits of proposed air pollution regulations. National Academy Press, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  38. Ostro B et al (2010) The effects of temperature and use of air conditioning on hospitalizations. Am J Epidemiol 172:1053–1061CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Robine JM et al (2008) Death toll exceeded 70,000 in Europe during the summer of 2003. C R Biol 331:171–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Stafoggia M et al (2006) Vulnerability to heat-related mortality: a multicity, population-based, case-crossover analysis. Epidemiology 17:315–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tobías A, García de Olalla P, Linares C, Bleda MJ, Caylà JC, Díaz J (2010) Short-term effects of extreme hot summer temperatures on total daily mortality in Barcelona, Spain. Int J Biometeorol 54:115–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Voorhees AS, Fann N, Fulcher C, Dolwick P, Hubbell B, Bierwagen B, Morefield P (2011) Climate change-related temperature impacts on warm season heat mortality: a proof-of-concept methodology using BenMAP. Environ Sci Technol 45:1450–1457. doi: 10.1021/es102820y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. World Health Organization (2001) Quantification of the health effects of exposure to air pollution. Report of a WHO working group., European Centre for Environmental and Health, Bilthovan, NetherlandsGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© ISB 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bart Ostro
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jose Barrera-Gómez
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Joan Ballester
    • 5
  • Xavier Basagaña
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jordi Sunyer
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    • 6
  1. 1.Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL)BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Office of Environmental Health Hazard AssessmentCalifornia Environmental Protection AgencyOaklandUSA
  3. 3.IMIM (Hospital del Mar Research Institute)BarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP)BarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Institut Català de Ciències del Clima (IC3)BarcelonaSpain
  6. 6.Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)BarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations