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Associations between elevated atmospheric temperature and human mortality: a critical review of the literature

Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
  • Biology
  • Earth Science
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Medicine
  • Psychology


The effects of the anomalously warm European summer of 2003 highlighted the importance of understanding the relationship between elevated atmospheric temperature and human mortality. This review is an extension of the brief evidence examining this relationship provided in the IPCC’s Assessment Reports. A comprehensive and critical review of the literature is presented, which highlights avenues for further research, and the respective merits and limitations of the methods used to analyse the relationships. In contrast to previous reviews that concentrate on the epidemiological evidence, this review acknowledges the inter-disciplinary nature of the topic and examines the evidence presented in epidemiological, environmental health, and climatological journals. As such, present temperature–mortality relationships are reviewed, followed by a discussion of how these are likely to change under climate change scenarios. The importance of uncertainty, and methods to include it in future work, are also considered.

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