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Measuring temperature-related mortality using endogenously determined thresholds

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Heat-related mortality tends to be associated with heatwaves that do not allow for sufficient acclimatisation to hot temperatures. In contrast, damage functions and most heatwave emergency response plans do not account for acclimatisation. Using an excess heat measure that accounts for acclimatisation, this paper produces estimates of temperature-related mortality for the five largest Australian capital cities. Fixed effects panel threshold regressions are applied to establish the thresholds that coincide with heightened mortality during extreme temperature events. The estimated parameters associated with these thresholds are then used to develop hindcast estimates for cold temperatures, moderate temperatures, hot temperatures and extreme heat. The estimated thresholds coincide with a notable impact of hot temperatures on mortality, but a limited cold temperature impact. This shows that the burden of risk associated with mortality related to future temperatures and climate change within Australia coincides with heatwaves rather than coldwaves. This is in contrast to recent studies that found that cold temperature-related mortality within Australian capital cities has and will continue to be notable. These studies also found a net benefit from climate change in Australia due to reduced cold temperature deaths.

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  1. This means that the daily maximum temperature data reported by the BOM for January 1 becomes the observation for December 31.


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Correspondence to Thomas Longden.

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The author thanks the Australian Bureau of Statistics for daily all-cause mortality data and the Australian Bureau of Meterology for temperature data. Two anonymous reviewers provided useful feedback and comments that improved the paper. The usual disclaimers apply.



Table 3 Specification and summary statistics of the explanatory variables in the threshold models
Table 4 Mapping of ABS mortality data and BOM weather stations
Table 5 Goodness of fit and threshold statistics from the different threshold models
Table 6 Threshold regression model results – Number of deaths per region
Table 7 Threshold regression model results – Number of deaths per 100,000
Table 8 Threshold regression model results – Number of deaths per region – Reduced model
Table 9 Threshold regression model results – Number of deaths per 100,000 – Reduced model

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Longden, T. Measuring temperature-related mortality using endogenously determined thresholds. Climatic Change 150, 343–375 (2018).

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