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Title: Estimation and Uncertainty Analysis of Impacts of Future Heat Waves on Mortality in the Eastern United States

Background: It is anticipated that climate change will influence heat-related mortality in the future. However, the estimation of excess mortality attributable to future heat waves is subject to large uncertainties, which have not been examined under the latest greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Objectives: We estimated the future heat wave impact on mortality in the eastern United States (~ 1,700 counties) under two Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) and analyzed the sources of uncertainties. Methods Using dynamically downscaled hourly temperature projections in 2057-2059, we calculated heat wave days and episodes based on four heat wave metrics, and estimated the excess mortality attributable to them. The sources of uncertainty in estimated excess mortality were apportioned using a variance-decomposition method. Results: In the eastern U.S., the excess mortality attributable to heat waves could range from 200-7,807 with the mean of 2,379 persons/year in 2057-2059. The projected average excess mortality in RCP 4.5 and 8.5 scenarios was 1,403 and 3,556 persons/year, respectively. Excess mortality would be relatively high in the southern and eastern coastal areas. The major sources of uncertainty in the estimates are relative risk of heat wave mortality, the RCP scenarios, and the heat wave definitions. Conclusions: The estimated mortality risks from futuremore » heat waves are likely an order of magnitude higher than its current level and lead to thousands of deaths each year under the RCP8.5 scenario. The substantial spatial variability in estimated county-level heat mortality suggests that effective mitigation and adaptation measures should be developed based on spatially resolved data.« less
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
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Journal Name: Environmental Health Perspectives, 122(1):10-16
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States
climate change; excess mortality; heat wave; Representative Concentration Pathway; sensitivity analysis; uncertainty analysis