A heat-health watch and warning system with extended season and evolving thresholds
BACKGROUND: Many countries have developed heat-health watch and warning systems (HHWWS) or early-warning systems to mitigate the health consequences of extreme heat events. HHWWS usually focuses on the four hottest months of the year and imposes the same threshold over these months. However, according to climate projections, the warm season is expected to extend and/or shift. Some studies demonstrated that health impacts of heat waves are more severe when the human body is not acclimatized to the heat. In order to adapt those systems to potential heat waves occurring outside the hottest months of the season, this study proposes specific health-based monthly heat indicators and thresholds over an extended season from April to October in the northern hemisphere. METHODS: The proposed approach, an adoption and extension of the HHWWS methodology currently implemented in Quebec (Canada). The latter is developed and applied to the Greater Montreal area (current population 4.3 million) based on historical health and meteorological data over the years. This approach consists of determining excess mortality episodes and then choosing monthly indicators and thresholds that may involve excess mortality. RESULTS: We obtain thresholds for the maximum and minimum temperature couple (in °C) that range from (respectively, 23 and 12) in April, to (32 and 21) in July and back to (25 and 13) in October. The resulting HHWWS is flexible, with health-related thresholds taking into account the seasonality and the monthly variability of temperatures over an extended summer season. CONCLUSIONS: This adaptive and more realistic system has the potential to prevent, by data-driven health alerts, heat-related mortality outside the typical July-August months of heat waves. The proposed methodology is general and can be applied to other regions and situations based on their characteristics.
Date de publication (Zotero)