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Vulnerability Reduction Needed to Maintain Current Burdens of Heat-Related Mortality in a Changing Climate—Magnitude and Determinants

Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, SE90187 Umeå, Sweden
Department of Clinical Sciences, Malmö, Lund University, Jan Waldenströms gata 35, SE21428 Malmö, Sweden
Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Folkborgsvägen 17, SE60176 Norrköping, Sweden
School of Public Health, University of Washington, 4225 Roosevelt Way NE #100, Seattle, WA 98105, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Louise Ryan and Craig Anderson
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(7), 741;
Received: 4 May 2017 / Revised: 24 June 2017 / Accepted: 30 June 2017 / Published: 7 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spatial Modelling for Public Health Research)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: adaptation; climate change; health; heat; Europe adaptation; climate change; health; heat; Europe
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Åström, C.; Åström, D.O.; Andersson, C.; Ebi, K.L.; Forsberg, B. Vulnerability Reduction Needed to Maintain Current Burdens of Heat-Related Mortality in a Changing Climate—Magnitude and Determinants. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 741.

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