The contribution of air temperature and ozone to mortality rates during hot weather episodes in eight German cities during the years 2000 and 2017

Krug, Alexander; Fenner, Daniel; Mücke, Hans-Guido; Scherer, Dieter

Hot weather episodes are globally associated with excess mortality rates. Elevated ozone concentrations occurring simultaneously also contribute to excess mortality rates during these episodes. However, the relative importance of both stressors for excess mortality rates is not yet known and assumed to vary from region to region.

This study analyzes time series of daily observational data of air temperature and ozone concentrations for eight of the largest German cities during the years 2000 and 2017 with respect to the relative importance of both stressors for excess mortality rates in each city. By using an event-based risk approach, various thresholds for air temperature were explored for each city to detect hot weather episodes that are statistically associated with excess mortality rates. Multiple linear regressions were then calculated to investigate the relative contribution of variations in air temperature and ozone concentrations to the explained variance in mortality rates during these episodes, including the interaction of both predictors.

In all cities hot weather episodes were detected that are related to excess mortality rates. Across the cities, a strong increase of this relation was observed around the 95th percentile of each city-specific air temperature distribution. Elevated ozone concentrations during hot weather episodes are also related to excess mortality rates in all cities. In general, the relative contribution of elevated ozone concentrations on mortality rates declines with increasing air temperature thresholds and occurs mainly as a statistically inseparable part of the air temperature impact. The specific strength of the impact of both stressors varies across the investigated cities. City-specific drivers such as background climate and vulnerability of the city population might lead to these differences and could be the subject of further research.

These results underline strong regional differences in the importance of both stressors during hot weather episodes and could thus help in the development of city-specific heat–ozone–health warning systems to account for city-specific features.

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Zitierform:

Krug, Alexander / Fenner, Daniel / Mücke, Hans-Guido / et al: The contribution of air temperature and ozone to mortality rates during hot weather episodes in eight German cities during the years 2000 and 2017. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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