The early-season cold or heat wave: what are its impacts on human mortality?

Authors: Scott Sheridan*, Kent State University, Cameron C Lee, Kent State University
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: climate, heat wave, mortality
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Balcony B, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In this research, relative extreme temperature events are defined using the percentile thresholds relative to the climatology for a particular time of year. Using the recently defined Excess Heat Factor, extreme heat events (EHE) and extreme cold events (ECE) are defined using absolute thresholds, and relative extreme heat events (REHE) and relative extreme cold events (RECE) using relative thresholds.
All-cause mortality outcomes using a distributed lag nonlinear model are evaluated for the largest 51 metropolitan areas in the US for the period 1975-2010. Both the immediate impacts and the cumulative 20-day impacts are assessed for each of the extreme temperature event types. The 51 cities were then grouped into 8 regions for meta-analysis.
For heat events, the greatest mortality increases occur with a 0-day lag, with the subsequent days showing below-expected mortality (harvesting) that decreases the overall cumulative impact. For EHE, increases in mortality are still statistically significant when examined through 20 days. For REHE it appears as though the day-0 increase in mortality is short-term displacement.
For cold events, both relative and absolute, there is little mortality increase on day-0, but the impacts increase in subsequent days. Cumulative impacts are statistically significant at more than half of the stations for both ECE and RECE. The response to absolute ECE is strongest, but to autumn RECE across a number of southern locations there is a statistically significant increase in mortality, suggesting that there may be a lack of acclimatization increasing mortality in early season cold events.

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