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Journal Article

Evidence of rapid adaptation integrated into projections of temperature-related excess mortality


Huber,  Veronika
External Organizations;

Peña Ortiz,  Cristina
External Organizations;

Gallego Puyol,  David
External Organizations;


Lange,  Stefan
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Sera,  Francesco
External Organizations;

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Huber, V., Peña Ortiz, C., Gallego Puyol, D., Lange, S., Sera, F. (2022): Evidence of rapid adaptation integrated into projections of temperature-related excess mortality. - Environmental Research Letters, 17, 4, 044075.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_26948
Few studies have used empirical evidence of past adaptation to project temperature-related excess mortality under climate change. Here, we assess adaptation in future projections of temperature-related excess mortality by employing evidence of shifting minimum mortality temperatures (MMTs) concurrent with climate warming of recent decades. The study is based on daily non-external mortality and daily mean temperature time-series from 11 Spanish cities covering four decades (1978–2017). It employs distributed lag non-linear models (DLNMs) to describe temperature-mortality associations, and multivariate mixed-effect meta-regression models to derive city- and subperiod-specific MMTs, and subsequently MMT associations with climatic indicators. We use temperature projections for one low- and one high-emission scenario (ssp126, ssp370) derived from five global climate models. Our results show that MMTs have closely tracked mean summer temperatures (MSTs) over time and space, with meta-regression models suggesting that the MMTs increased by 0.73 °C (95%CI: 0.65, 0.80) per 1 °C rise in MST over time, and by 0.84 °C (95%CI: 0.76, 0.92) per 1 °C rise in MST across cities. Future projections, which include adaptation by shifting MMTs according to observed temporal changes, result in 63.5% (95%CI: 50.0, 81.2) lower heat-related excess mortality, 63.7% (95%CI: 30.2, 166.7) higher cold-related excess mortality, and 11.2% (95%CI: −5.5, 39.5) lower total temperature-related excess mortality in the 2090s for ssp370 compared to estimates that do not account for adaptation. For ssp126, assumptions on adaptation have a comparatively small impact on excess mortality estimates. Elucidating the adaptive capacities of societies can motivate strengthened efforts to implement specific adaptation measures directed at reducing heat stress under climate change.