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The effect of climate-change-related heat waves on mortality in Spain: uncertainties in health on a local scale

Abstract

Different epidemiological studies have shown that high temperatures are directly related to mortality, furthermore many studies on the effects of climate change on future mortality are being conducted. The objective of this study is to estimate the effect of extreme hot temperatures on daily mortality in Zaragoza (Spain) from 2014 to 2021, utilising various climate-change scenarios. The relationship between temperature and mortality is defined by the concepts of heat wave, threshold temperature and the relative risk of daily deaths according to extreme temperatures in 1987–2006 period. The effect on future mortality is projected by estimating deaths attributable to extreme temperatures in 2014–2021. This estimation was calculated utilising exposure–response functions for three scenarios (A1B, A2 and B1) from the ECHAM5 general circulation model after applying a statistical downscaling technique. Because this study considers the effect of rising temperatures from a health perspective, minimising uncertainty was added to the numerical values obtained from the projected future relation between temperature and mortality. The results shows that expected mortality in Zaragoza will increase by 0.4 % for the period 2014–2021, an excess that can be directly attributed to extreme temperatures. This effect is expected to increase in the 2040s and 2050s until the end of the twenty first century because of a predicted increase in temperatures over this period, with special emphasis on the need to continue studying this line of inquiry and local studies as which arises. Finally, this study will luckily be used to create prevention plans for minimising the effect on health of the high temperatures.

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Acknowledgments

This Project was conducted by the Research Group GIMACES E02, Consolidated Applied Research Group, Government of Aragon, supported by the government of Aragon and the European Social Fund Building Europe from Aragon. Christina Linares and Julio Díaz have participated in this Project thanks to a scholarship from the Spanish Health Research Fund (Health Research Fund), File PI12/01404-ENPY 1001/13.

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Roldán, E., Gómez, M., Pino, M.R. et al. The effect of climate-change-related heat waves on mortality in Spain: uncertainties in health on a local scale. Stoch Environ Res Risk Assess 30, 831–839 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00477-015-1068-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00477-015-1068-7

Keywords

  • Extreme temperatures
  • Mortality
  • Climate change
  • Future projections
  • Uncertainties