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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Glenn McGregor

Paschalidou, A.K., Kassomenos, P.A. & McGregor, G.R. (2017). Analysis of the synoptic winter mortality climatology in five regions of England: Searching for evidence of weather signals. Science of the Total Environment 598: 432-444.

Author(s) from Durham


Although heat-related mortality has received considerable research attention, the impact of cold weather on public health is less well-developed, probably due to the fact that physiological responses to cold weather can vary substantially among individuals, age groups, diseases etc., depending on a number of behavioral and physiological factors. In the current work we use the classification techniques provided by the COST-733 software to link synoptic circulation patterns with excess cold-related mortality in 5 regions of England. We conclude that, regardless of the classification scheme used, the most hazardous conditions for public health in England are associated with the prevalence of the Easterly type of weather, favoring advection of cold air from continental Europe. It is noteworthy that there has been observed little-to-no regional variation with regards to the classification results among the 5 regions, suggestive of a spatially homogenous response of mortality to the atmospheric patterns identified. In general, the 10 different groupings of days used reveal that excess winter mortality is linked with the lowest daily minimum/maximum temperatures in the area. However it is not uncommon to observe high mortality rates during days with higher, in relative terms, temperatures, when rapidly changing weather results in an increase of mortality. Such a finding confirms the complexity of cold-related mortality and highlights the importance of synoptic climatology in understanding of the phenomenon.