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      Attribution of mortality to the urban heat island during heatwaves in the West Midlands, UK

      research-article
      , ,
      Environmental Health
      BioMed Central
      The 11th International Conference on Urban Health
      06/03/2014

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          Abstract

          Background

          The Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect describes the phenomenon whereby cities are generally warmer than surrounding rural areas. Traditionally, temperature monitoring sites are placed outside of city centres, which means that point measurements do not always reflect the true air temperature of urban centres, and estimates of health impacts based on such data may under-estimate the impact of heat on public health. Climate change is likely to exacerbate heatwaves in future, but because climate projections do not usually include the UHI, health impacts may be further underestimated. These factors motivate a two-dimensional analysis of population weighted temperature across an urban area, for heat related health impact assessments, since populations are typically densest in urban centres, where ambient temperatures are highest and the UHI is most pronounced. We investigate the sensitivity of health impact estimates to the use of population weighting and the inclusion of urban temperatures in exposure data.

          Methods

          We quantify the attribution of the UHI to heat related mortality in the West Midlands during the heatwave of August 2003 by comparing health impacts based on two modelled temperature simulations. The first simulation is based on detailed urban land use information and captures the extent of the UHI, whereas in the second simulation, urban land surfaces have been replaced by rural types.

          Results and conclusions

          The results suggest that the UHI contributed around 50 % of the total heat-related mortality during the 2003 heatwave in the West Midlands. We also find that taking a geographical, rather than population-weighted, mean of temperature across the regions under-estimates the population exposure to temperatures by around 1 °C, roughly equivalent to a 20 % underestimation in mortality. We compare the mortality contribution of the UHI to impacts expected from a range of projected temperatures based on the UKCP09 Climate Projections. For a medium emissions scenario, a typical heatwave in 2080 could be responsible for an increase in mortality of around 3 times the rate in 2003 (278 vs. 90 deaths) when including changes in population, population weighting and the UHI effect in the West Midlands, and assuming no change in population adaptation to heat in future.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12940-016-0100-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references22

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          Climate change effects on human health: projections of temperature-related mortality for the UK during the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s.

          The most direct way in which climate change is expected to affect public health relates to changes in mortality rates associated with exposure to ambient temperature. Many countries worldwide experience annual heat-related and cold-related deaths associated with current weather patterns. Future changes in climate may alter such risks. Estimates of the likely future health impacts of such changes are needed to inform public health policy on climate change in the UK and elsewhere.
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            Projecting Future Heat-Related Mortality under Climate Change Scenarios: A Systematic Review

            Background: Heat-related mortality is a matter of great public health concern, especially in the light of climate change. Although many studies have found associations between high temperatures and mortality, more research is needed to project the future impacts of climate change on heat-related mortality. Objectives: We conducted a systematic review of research and methods for projecting future heat-related mortality under climate change scenarios. Data sources and extraction: A literature search was conducted in August 2010, using the electronic databases PubMed, Scopus, ScienceDirect, ProQuest, and Web of Science. The search was limited to peer-reviewed journal articles published in English from January 1980 through July 2010. Data synthesis: Fourteen studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Most projections showed that climate change would result in a substantial increase in heat-related mortality. Projecting heat-related mortality requires understanding historical temperature–mortality relationships and considering the future changes in climate, population, and acclimatization. Further research is needed to provide a stronger theoretical framework for projections, including a better understanding of socioeconomic development, adaptation strategies, land-use patterns, air pollution, and mortality displacement. Conclusions: Scenario-based projection research will meaningfully contribute to assessing and managing the potential impacts of climate change on heat-related mortality.
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              The Impact of Heat Islands on Mortality in Paris during the August 2003 Heat Wave

              Background: Heat waves have a drastic impact on urban populations, which could increase with climate change. Objectives: We evaluated new indicators of elderly people’s exposure to heat in Paris, from a public health prevention perspective, using satellite thermal images. Methods: We used a time series of 61 images from the satellites of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) taken from 1 to 13 August 2003 to produce thermal indicators of minimum, maximum, and mean surface temperatures and diurnal temperature amplitude, with different lags between the meteorological data and the health impact. Health data came from a case–control study involving 241 people ≥ 65 years of age who died in the city of Paris or the nearby suburban area of Val-de-Marne during the August 2003 heat wave, and 241 controls who were matched to cases on age, sex, and residential zone. For each person, we integrated the thermal indicators in a conditional logistic regression model, adjusted for age and other potential confounders. We computed odds ratios (ORs) comparing the 90th and 50th percentiles of the temperature differences between cases and controls for various indicators. Results: Mortality risk was significantly associated with exposure for two indicators: minimum temperatures averaged for 1–13 August [for a 0.41°C increase, OR = 2.17; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.14, 4.16] and minimum temperature averaged on the day of death and the 6 preceding days (for a 0.51°C increase: OR = 2.24; 95% CI: 1.03, 4.87). Conclusions: Our results support the influence of night temperatures on the health impact of heat waves in urban areas. Urban heat exposure indicators based on satellite imagery have the potential to identify areas with higher risk of death, which could inform intervention decisions by key stakeholders.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                clare.heaviside@phe.gov.uk
                sotiris.vardoulakis@phe.gov.uk
                x.cai@bham.ac.uk
                Conference
                Environ Health
                Environ Health
                Environmental Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                1476-069X
                8 March 2016
                8 March 2016
                2016
                : 15
                Issue : Suppl 1 Issue sponsor : Publication of this supplement has not been supported by sponsorship. Information about the source of funding for publication charges can be found in the individual articles. The articles have been through the journal's standard peer review process for supplements. Supplement Editor competing interests: PW has received research funding to his employing institution from the Natural Environment Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the European Commission and the National Institute for Health Research on projects relating to sustainability and health in relation to the built environment. SV is the Head of the Environmental Change Department of Public Health England. Four papers (Arbuthnott et al., Salmond et al., Heaviside et al., Woods et al) in this supplement have been co-authored by SV or members of SV's Department. Peer-review of these papers was supervised by another guest editor, Prof Keith Dear, who made editorial decisions. SV is a member of the stakeholder committee for the UCL Complex Built Environment Systems (CBES) Group, which submitted one of the papers recommended for publication (Macmillan et al.). The paper was independently peer-reviewed by an external reviewer as well as by another guest editor (Paul Wilkinson). SV holds honorary academic affiliations with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Birmingham, and Exeter University. SV has received research funding to their employing institution (PHE) from the European Commission and the National Institute for Health Research on projects relating to urban environmental health and sustainability. KD declares no competing interests.
                Affiliations
                [ ]Environmental Change Department, Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, Public Health England, Oxon, UK
                [ ]School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
                Article
                100
                10.1186/s12940-016-0100-9
                4895726
                26961286
                fb374d7d-1be9-4be1-9072-05cc1a30162e
                © Heaviside et al. 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                The 11th International Conference on Urban Health
                Manchester, UK
                06/03/2014
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                © The Author(s) 2016

                Public health
                Public health

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