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Comparison of UTCI with Other Thermal Indices in the Assessment of Heat and Cold Effects on Cardiovascular Mortality in the Czech Republic
Institute of Atmospheric Physics AS CR, Boční II 1401, 141 31 Prague 4, Czech Republic
Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Albertov 6, 128 43 Prague 2, Czech Republic
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 September 2013; in revised form: 10 December 2013 / Accepted: 30 December 2013 / Published: 9 January 2014
Abstract: We compare the recently developed Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI) with other thermal indices in analysing heat- and cold-related effects on cardiovascular (CVD) mortality in two different (urban and rural) regions in the Czech Republic during the 16-year period from 1994–2009. Excess mortality is represented by the number of deaths above expected daily values, the latter being adjusted for long-term changes, annual and weekly cycles, and epidemics of influenza/acute respiratory infections. Air temperature, UTCI, Apparent Temperature (AT) and Physiologically Equivalent Temperature (PET) are applied to identify days with heat and cold stress. We found similar heat effects on CVD mortality for air temperature and the examined thermal indices. Responses of CVD mortality to cold effects as characterised by different indices were much more varied. Particularly important is the finding that air temperature provides a weak cold effect in comparison with the thermal indices in both regions, so its application—still widespread in epidemiological studies—may underestimate the magnitude of cold-related mortality. These findings are important when possible climate change effects on heat- and cold-related mortality are estimated. AT and PET appear to be more universal predictors of heat- and cold- related mortality than UTCI when both urban and rural environments are of concern. UTCI tends to select windy rather than freezing days in winter, though these show little effect on mortality in the urban population. By contrast, significant cold-related mortality in the rural region if UTCI is used shows potential for UTCI to become a useful tool in cold exposure assessments.
Keywords: UTCI; human thermal comfort; mortality; cardiovascular diseases; heat stress; cold stress
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Urban, A.; Kyselý, J. Comparison of UTCI with Other Thermal Indices in the Assessment of Heat and Cold Effects on Cardiovascular Mortality in the Czech Republic. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 952-967.
Urban A, Kyselý J. Comparison of UTCI with Other Thermal Indices in the Assessment of Heat and Cold Effects on Cardiovascular Mortality in the Czech Republic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2014; 11(1):952-967.
Urban, Aleš; Kyselý, Jan. 2014. "Comparison of UTCI with Other Thermal Indices in the Assessment of Heat and Cold Effects on Cardiovascular Mortality in the Czech Republic." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 11, no. 1: 952-967.