A study carried out by Mónica Rodrigues, a researcher at the Center for Studies in Geography and Spatial Planning (CEGOT) at the University of Coimbra (UC), projects the impact of climate change on mortality in Portugal in the short and long term.
In research, Mónica Rodrigues used advanced models to quantify the effects of temperature on mortality, in the short (2051-2065) and long term (2085-2099), and also developed studies that incorporate prospective demographic scenarios into associated mortality projections. to temperature under current and future conditions (2046-2065), taking into account cold and heat-related mortality.
According to the researcher, the application of these models allows “to obtain results on the identification of factors inherent to climate vulnerability, contemplating the impacts of climate change in the worsening of preventable deaths and, also, to know the age groups that present associated vulnerabilities, in the light of scenarios futures. The objective is to continue to strengthen knowledge on the modeling and simulation of the impacts of climate change on the health of the population in Portugal».
In particular, the study identified the age groups (under 65 years and +65 years) at risk in terms of the impact of climate change on diseases of the circulatory system, in the Lisbon and Porto Metropolitan Areas.
The results, explains Mónica Rodrigues, show that for future periods «a rise in temperature is expected, both in summer and in winter, with a greater frequency of heat waves, influencing mortality. For example, in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, during the summer months, there is an increase in mortality associated with extreme heat, in all ages, in the order of 1,58% and 0,10% in both periods (2051 -2065 and 2085-2099, respectively), compared to the historical period (1991-2005)».
«Mortality associated with extreme heat is higher in the group +65 years than in the group <65 years, namely 2,22% vs. 1,38% in 2085-2099, compared to the historical period. However, in the Porto Metropolitan Area, only the 65+ group shows significant impacts with mortality associated with heat from 0,23% in 2051-2065 to 1,37% in 2085-2099», he points out.
Regarding the winter months, the study estimates, for the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, a decrease in mortality associated with extreme cold in the order of 0,55% for 2051-2065 vs. 1991-2005 and 0,45% for 2085-2099 vs. 1991-2005. Likewise, in the Porto Metropolitan Area, there was a decrease in mortality associated with cold in the order of 0,31% in the short term (2051-2065) and 0,49% in the long term (2085-2099), compared to the historical period (1991-2005).
According to the expert, the results obtained through climate and health modeling “can, and should, influence policy formulation and include a preventive approach. The absence of quantitative projections that incorporate climate change into scenarios of possible demographic change and adaptations limits the evidence on emerging health risks, definitions of temperature exposure at the local level and the identification of zones/geographical areas where the risk is most high".
The doctoral thesis carried out by researcher Mónica Rodrigues is unprecedented, being published in the most prestigious scientific journals in the world, which attests to the quality and degree of reliability of the research. In addition, it was featured in one of the most prestigious reports with global relevance, the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (IPCC, WGII)” – , the world's leading body studying climate change.
Mónica Rodrigues is a specialist who integrates working groups at the World Health Organization, the European Environment Agency, the Environment Agency (in Austria), and is part of the group of experts and expert reviewers of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). ). Her research has been dedicated to the study of the impact that climate change has on chronic diseases in Portugal and Europe.