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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Glenn McGregor

Dimitriou, K., McGregor, G.R., Kassomenos, P.A. & Paschalidou, A.K. (2016). Exploring Winter Mortality Variability in Five Regions of England Using Back Trajectory Analysis. Earth Interactions 20(1): 1-27.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper aims to define atmospheric pathways related with the occurrence of daily winter low temperature episodes (LTE) in England, for the 26-yr period 1974–99, and to reveal possible associations with increased mortality rates. For this purpose, backward airmass trajectories, corresponding to LTE in five regions of England, were deployed. A statistically significant increase in mortality levels, at the 0.05 level, was found for LTE, compared to non-LTE days across all five regions. Seven categories of atmospheric trajectory patterns associated with LTE were identified: east, local, west, North Atlantic, Arctic, southwest, and Scandinavian. Consideration of the link between airmass trajectory patterns and mortality levels by region revealed a possible west-to-east split in the nature of air masses connected with elevated mortality. Specifically, for the West Midlands and northwest regions, relatively warm winter weather conditions from the west, most likely associated with the eastward progression of low pressure systems, are allied with the highest daily average mortality counts, whereas, for the northeast, Humberside/York, and southeast regions, cold continental air advection from northern or eastern Europe, which lasts for several days and is linked with either a blocking pattern over the western margins of Europe or an intense high pressure anomaly over eastern or northern Europe, appears important in mortality terms. This finding confirms that winter weather health associations are complex, such that climate setting and airmass climatology need to be taken into account when considering climate and health relationships.