The Impact of Future Summer Temperature on Public Health in Barcelona and Catalonia, Spain

Int J Biometeorol. 2012 Nov;56(6):1135-44. doi: 10.1007/s00484-012-0529-7. Epub 2012 Feb 28.


Several epidemiological studies have reported associations between increases in summer temperatures and risks of premature mortality. The quantitative implications of predicted future increases in summer temperature, however, have not been extensively characterized. We have quantified these effects for the four main cities in Catalonia, Spain (Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida, Girona). We first used case-crossover analysis to estimate the association between temperature and mortality for each of these cities for the period 1983 to 2006. These exposure-response (ER) functions were then combined with local measures of current and projected changes in population, mortality and temperature for the years 2025 and 2050. Predicted daily mean temperatures were based on the A1B greenhouse gas emission, "business-as-usual" scenario simulations derived from the ENSEMBLES project. Several different ER functions were examined and significant associations between temperature and mortality were observed for all four cities. For these four cities, the age-specific piecewise linear model predicts 520 (95%CI 340, 720) additional annual deaths attributable to the change in temperature in 2025 relative to the average from the baseline period of 1960-1990. For 2050, the estimate increases to 1,610 deaths per year during the warm season. For Catalonia as a whole, the point estimates for those two years are 720 and 2,330 deaths per year, respectively, or about 2 and 3% of the warm season. In comparing these predicted impacts with current causes of mortality, they clearly represent significant burdens to public health in Catalonia.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cities
  • Humans
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Seasons
  • Spain
  • Temperature