657 Effects of Climate Change on Seasonal Morbidity and Mortality of Respiratory Diseases in Germany

Tuesday, 8 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Andreas Matzarakis, DWD, Freiburg, Germany; and I. Schlegel, S. Muthers, and H. G. Mücke

Daily weather affects human health in several ways and not only concerning climate change. In a previous study it was shown for Germany, that the occurrence of ischemic heart diseases is strongly linked with the thermal environment. In particular, the mortality due to ischemic heart diseases increases with higher temperatures. For the morbidity, however, no significant relationship to the thermal environment could be found.

Besides ischemic heart diseases, respiratory diseases like asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are globally immense heath factors. In this study, we focus on the occurrence of respiratory diseases in Germany and possible effects of daily weather, climate, and climate change.

Therefore, a systematic literature review and meta-analysis on this subject is conducted in the first step. In databases like PubMed and Science Direct, about 300 publications relevant for this issue were selected. In many of these studies, a negative effect of heat waves and cold temperature on respiratory diseases is found as well as the negative impact of air pollution. Studies combining both thermal and pollution components, however, are less often, but can identify possible differences and interactions between these components.

In the second step, a retrospective analysis studying the relationship between respiratory diseases and weather is assessed for several regions in Germany. For this, daily mortality and morbidity (hospitalization) data on a county level for the period 2001-2015 will be used in combination with meteorological observations from the German Meteorological Service (DWD) network. The retrospective analysis is focused on the identification of specific weather patterns, single or multivariate parameters, which have a significant influence on the occurrence of respiratory diseases.

In the last step, the change of these specific weather patterns or variables in the context of climate change is assessed using regional climate model simulations from the CORDEX project. Two different RCP scenarios (4.5 and 8.5) are selected to display the possible range of future effects. Several approaches based on single parameters (air temperature, relative humidity, vapor pressure, day to day changes), simple (humidex) and complex thermal indices (physiologically equivalent temperature, perceived temperature, and universal thermal climate index) will be applied. This will allow us to estimate potential changes in the occurrence of respiratory diseases due to climatic changes for different periods in the future.

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