Estimating Heat-Related Mortality in the U.S. and In China Using Downscaled Climate Projections

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Public health effects associated with rising temperatures resulted from global climate change are expected to increase significantly in this century. Projecting future heat-related mortality is challenging due to some considerable uncertainties, and national-level impacts under the latest greenhouse gas emission scenarios remain unexplored. This study investigates future excess heat-related mortality in two large countries: The United States and China in 2050s under the latest Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) emission scenarios. Using model-simulated future and present climate variables that were dynamically downscaled, we quantify the potential increase in heat-related mortality during the warm season. We study the entire continental U.S. and 51 largest urban areas in China, which roughly account for one third of population in China. We derive heat mortality risk estimates and adaptation assumptions from a comprehensive review of current literature of temperature-mortality relationships in both countries. We incorporate the latest population projection in both countries, and also investigate geographical variations in heat mortality risk and sources of uncertainty including population adaptation. Our findings suggest that future heat mortality risk attributable to elevated warm season temperature is likely to be significant in both countries studied, with substantial geographic variations, highlighting the significance of climate mitigation and local-level heat risk management.


Boston, MA

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