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Developing a Heatwave Early Warning System for Sweden: Evaluating Sensitivity of Different Epidemiological Modelling Approaches to Forecast Temperatures

1
Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicin, Umeå University, SE901 87 Umeå, Sweden
2
Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, SE601 76 Norrköping, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(1), 254-267; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120100254
Received: 30 September 2014 / Accepted: 18 December 2014 / Published: 23 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather-Related Morbidity and Mortality: Risks and Responses)
Over the last two decades a number of heatwaves have brought the need for heatwave early warning systems (HEWS) to the attention of many European governments. The HEWS in Europe are operating under the assumption that there is a high correlation between observed and forecasted temperatures. We investigated the sensitivity of different temperature mortality relationships when using forecast temperatures. We modelled mortality in Stockholm using observed temperatures and made predictions using forecast temperatures from the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts to assess the sensitivity. We found that the forecast will alter the expected future risk differently for different temperature mortality relationships. The more complex models seemed more sensitive to inaccurate forecasts. Despite the difference between models, there was a high agreement between models when identifying risk-days. We find that considerations of the accuracy in temperature forecasts should be part of the design of a HEWS. Currently operating HEWS do evaluate their predictive performance; this information should also be part of the evaluation of the epidemiological models that are the foundation in the HEWS. The most accurate description of the relationship between high temperature and mortality might not be the most suitable or practical when incorporated into a HEWS. View Full-Text
Keywords: heatwave; early warning; forecast heatwave; early warning; forecast
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Åström, C.; Ebi, K.L.; Langner, J.; Forsberg, B. Developing a Heatwave Early Warning System for Sweden: Evaluating Sensitivity of Different Epidemiological Modelling Approaches to Forecast Temperatures. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 254-267.

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