University of Oulu

Aleš Urban, Claudia Di Napoli, Hannah L. Cloke, Jan Kyselý, Florian Pappenberger, Francesco Sera, Rochelle Schneider, Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera, Fiorella Acquaotta, Martina S. Ragettli, Carmen Íñiguez, Aurelio Tobias, Ene Indermitte, Hans Orru, Jouni J.K. Jaakkola, Niilo R.I. Ryti, Mathilde Pascal, Veronika Huber, Alexandra Schneider, Francesca de’ Donato, Paola Michelozzi, Antonio Gasparrini, Evaluation of the ERA5 reanalysis-based Universal Thermal Climate Index on mortality data in Europe, Environmental Research, Volume 198, 2021, 111227, ISSN 0013-9351,

Evaluation of the ERA5 reanalysis-based Universal Thermal Climate Index on mortality data in Europe

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Author: Urban, Aleš1,2; Di Napoli, Claudia3,4; Cloke, Hannah L.5,6,7,8;
Organizations: 1Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic
2Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic
3School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
4Forecast Department, European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, United Kingdom
5Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
6Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
7Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Sweden
8Centre of Natural Hazards and Disaster Science, Uppsala, Sweden
9Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic
10Department of Public Health, Environments and Society, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
11Ф-Lab, European Space Agency (ESA-ESRIN), Frascati, Italy
12The Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
13Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
14Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
15Department of Earth Sciences, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
16Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland
17University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
18Department of Statistics and Computational Research, Universitat de València, València, Spain
19Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, Spanish Council for Scientific Research, Barcelona, Spain
20School of Tropical Medicine and Global Health, Nagasaki University, Nagasaki, Japan
21Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
22Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
23Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research (CERH), University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
24Medical Research Center Oulu (MRC Oulu), Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
25Biocenter Oulu, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
26Santé Publique France, Department of Environmental Health, French National Public Health Agency, Saint Maurice, France
27Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany
28Department of Physical, Chemical and Natural Systems, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla, Spain
29Institute of Epidemiology, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH), Neuherberg, Germany
30Department of Epidemiology, Lazio Regional Health Service ASL Roma 1, Rome, Italy
31Centre for Statistical Methodology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 5.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-06-30


Air temperature has been the most commonly used exposure metric in assessing relationships between thermal stress and mortality. Lack of the high-quality meteorological station data necessary to adequately characterize the thermal environment has been one of the main limitations for the use of more complex thermal indices. Global climate reanalyses may provide an ideal platform to overcome this limitation and define complex heat and cold stress conditions anywhere in the world. In this study, we explored the potential of the Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI) based on ERA5 — the latest global climate reanalysis from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) — as a health-related tool. Employing a novel ERA5-based thermal comfort dataset ERA5-HEAT, we investigated the relationships between the UTCI and daily mortality data in 21 cities across 9 European countries. We used distributed lag nonlinear models to assess exposure-response relationships between mortality and thermal conditions in individual cities. We then employed meta-regression models to pool the results for each city into four groups according to climate zone. To evaluate the performance of ERA5-based UTCI, we compared its effects on mortality with those for the station-based UTCI data. In order to assess the additional effect of the UTCI, the performance of ERA5-and station-based air temperature (T) was evaluated. Whilst generally similar heat- and cold-effects were observed for the ERA5-and station-based data in most locations, the important role of wind in the UTCI appeared in the results. The largest difference between any two datasets was found in the Southern European group of cities, where the relative risk of mortality at the 1st percentile of daily mean temperature distribution (1.29 and 1.30 according to the ERA5 vs station data, respectively) considerably exceeded the one for the daily mean UTCI (1.19 vs 1.22). These differences were mainly due to the effect of wind in the cold tail of the UTCI distribution. The comparison of exposure-response relationships between ERA5-and station-based data shows that ERA5-based UTCI may be a useful tool for definition of life-threatening thermal conditions in locations where high-quality station data are not available.

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Series: Environmental research
ISSN: 0013-9351
ISSN-E: 1096-0953
ISSN-L: 0013-9351
Volume: 198
Article number: 111227
DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111227
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: The study was primarily supported by the Czech Science Foundation, project no. 18-22125S (AU and JK), the European Commission's HORIZON2020 ANYWHERE project (Enhancing Emergency Management and Response to Extreme Weather and Climate Events, Project ID 700099, CDN, HLC), and FATHUM (Forecasts for AnTicipatory HUManitarian action) part of the UKRI NERC/DFID SHEAR programme, grant number NE/P000525/1 (HLC). The following individual grants also supported this work: Medical Research Council-UK (Grant ID: MR/M022625/1), Natural Environment Research Council UK (Grant ID: NE/R009384/1), European Union's Horizon 2020 Project Exhaustion (Grant ID: 820655), Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (Grant ID: PCIN-2017-046).
Copyright information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (