Estimating heat wave-related mortality in Europe using singular spectrum analysis
Estimating the impact of heat waves on human mortality is key when it comes to the design of effective climate change adaptation measures. As the usual approach—relying on detailed health data in form of hospital records—is not feasible for many countries, a different methodology is needed. This work presents such an approach. Based on singular spectrum analysis and using monthly mortality rates—partly ranging back to 1960—it derives excess mortality estimates for 27 European countries. Excess mortality is then regressed against a heat wave measure in order to assess the health impacts of extreme heat. The analysis demonstrates that many European countries are severely affected by heat waves: On average, 0.61%—and up to 1.14% in case of Portugal—of all deaths are caused by extreme heat events. This finding confirms the understanding that climate change is a major environmental risk to public health: In the 27 examined European countries, over 28,000 people die every year due to exposure to extreme heat.