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Journal Article

Global drivers of minimum mortality temperatures in cities


Krummenauer,  Linda
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Prahl,  Boris F.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Costa,  Luís
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Holsten,  Anne
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Walther,  Carsten
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Kropp,  Jürgen P.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Krummenauer, L., Prahl, B. F., Costa, L., Holsten, A., Walther, C., Kropp, J. P. (2019): Global drivers of minimum mortality temperatures in cities. - Science of the Total Environment, 695, 133560.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_23249
Human mortality shows a pronounced temperature dependence. The minimum mortality temperature (MMT) as a characteristic point of the temperature-mortality relationship is influenced by many factors. As MMT estimates are based on case studies, they are sporadic, limited to data-rich regions, and their drivers have not yet been clearly identified across case studies. This impedes the elaboration of spatially comprehensive impact studies on heat-related mortality and hampers the temporal transfer required to assess climate change impacts. Using 400 MMTs from cities, we systematically establish a generalised model that is able to estimate MMTs (in daily apparent temperature) for cities, based on a set of climatic, topographic and socio-economic drivers. A sigmoid model prevailed against alternative model setups due to having the lowest Akaike Information Criterion (AICc) and the smallest RMSE. We find the long-term climate, the elevation, and the socio-economy to be relevant drivers of our MMT sample within the non-linear parametric regression model. A first model application estimated MMTs for 599 European cities (>100 000 inhabitants) and reveals a pronounced decrease in MMTs (27.8–16 °C) from southern to northern cities. Disruptions of this pattern across regions of similar mean temperatures can be explained by socio-economic standards as noted for central eastern Europe. Our alternative method allows to approximate MMTs independently from the availability of daily mortality records. For the first time, a quantification of climatic and non-climatic MMT drivers has been achieved, which allows to consider changes in socio-economic conditions and climate. This work contributes to the comparability among MMTs beyond location-specific and regional limits and, hence, towards a spatially comprehensive impact assessment for heat-related mortality.