International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 51, Issue 6, pp 525–540 | Cite as

Climate change and heat-related mortality in six cities Part 1: model construction and validation

  • Simon N. GoslingEmail author
  • Glenn R. McGregor
  • Anna Páldy
Original Paper


Heat waves are expected to increase in frequency and magnitude with climate change. The first part of a study to produce projections of the effect of future climate change on heat-related mortality is presented. Separate city-specific empirical statistical models that quantify significant relationships between summer daily maximum temperature (T max) and daily heat-related deaths are constructed from historical data for six cities: Boston, Budapest, Dallas, Lisbon, London, and Sydney. ‘Threshold temperatures’ above which heat-related deaths begin to occur are identified. The results demonstrate significantly lower thresholds in ‘cooler’ cities exhibiting lower mean summer temperatures than in ‘warmer’ cities exhibiting higher mean summer temperatures. Analysis of individual ‘heat waves’ illustrates that a greater proportion of mortality is due to mortality displacement in cities with less sensitive temperature–mortality relationships than in those with more sensitive relationships, and that mortality displacement is no longer a feature more than 12 days after the end of the heat wave. Validation techniques through residual and correlation analyses of modelled and observed values and comparisons with other studies indicate that the observed temperature–mortality relationships are represented well by each of the models. The models can therefore be used with confidence to examine future heat-related deaths under various climate change scenarios for the respective cities (presented in Part 2).


Mortality Climate change Temperature Mortality displacement Heat waves 



This study was supported with funding from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and a Co-operative Awards in Sciences of the Environment (CASE) award from the UK Met Office. Thank you to Laurence Kalkstein (University of Miami), Scott Greene (University of Oklahoma), and Scott Sheridan (Kent State University) for the US data, Suraje Dessai (Tyndall Centre) for the Lisbon data, and to Michael Bath (Australian Severe Weather Association) and Robert Van der Hoek (Australian Bureau of Statistics) for the Sydney data. Thank you also to Allan Baker (Office for National Statistics) for the London mortality data, and Andrea Fulop (Hungary National Meteorological Service) for the Budapest Meteorological data. Jason Lowe is thanked for his comments on an earlier version of the paper.


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Copyright information

© ISB 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon N. Gosling
    • 1
    Email author
  • Glenn R. McGregor
    • 1
  • Anna Páldy
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeographyKing’s CollegeLondonUK
  2. 2.Jozsef Fodor National Institute of Environmental HealthBudapestHungary

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