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Warmer Winters Reduce Mortality in Europe

Paper Reviewed
Ballester, J., Rodó, X., Robine, J.-M. and Herrmann, F.R. 2016. European seasonal mortality and influenza incidence due to winter temperature variability. Nature Climate Change 6: 927-931.

Seeking to add understanding to the impact of temperature on human mortality, Ballester et al. (2016) analyzed a host of climate variables against daily regional counts of mortality from 16 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) over the period 1998-2005.

In discussing their findings, the four European researchers report that their analyses "highlight the strong association between year-to-year fluctuations in winter mean temperature and mortality, with higher seasonal cases during harsh winters." Exceptions, however, were noted for the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands, which lack of correlation was likely explained by socioeconomic factors (e.g., higher housing efficiency, better healthcare, reduced economic and fuel poverty, etc.). Nevertheless, upon further analysis, Ballester et al. say that, despite the lack of mortality association in these three countries, "it can be concluded that warmer winters will contribute to the decrease in winter mortality everywhere in Europe." And that is great news for citizens of these countries with a combined population of over 400 million persons.

Posted 15 March 2017