Vulnerability reduction needed to maintain current burdens of heat-related mortality in a changing climate—magnitude and determinants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The health burden from heatwaves is expected to increase with rising global mean temperatures and more extreme heat events over the coming decades. Health-related effects from extreme heat are more common in elderly populations. The population of Europe is rapidly aging, which will increase the health effects of future temperatures. In this study, we estimate the magnitude of adaptation needed to lower vulnerability to heat in order to prevent an increase in heat-related deaths in the 2050s, this is the Adaptive Risk Reduction (ARR) needed. Temperature projections under Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 and RCP 8.5 from 18 climate models were coupled with gridded population data and exposure-response relationships from a European multi-city study on heat-related mortality. In the 2050s, the ARR for the general population is 53.5%, based on temperature projections under RCP 4.5. For the population above 65 years in Southern Europe, the ARR is projected to be 45.9% in a future with an unchanged climate and 74.7% with climate change under RCP 4.5. The ARRs were higher under RCP 8.5. Whichever emission scenario is followed or population projection assumed, Europe will need to adapt to a great degree to maintain heat-related mortality at present levels, which are themselves unacceptably high, posing an even greater challenge.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • Umeå University
  • Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute
  • University of Washington
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

Keywords

  • Adaptation, Climate change, Europe, Health, Heat
Original languageEnglish
Article number741
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume14
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jul 7
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes