The potential of using climate indices as powerful tools to explain mortality anomalies: An application to mainland Spain
Changes in the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events represent one of the key indicators of climate change and variability. These events can have an important impact on mortality rates, especially in the ageing population. This study assessed the spatial and seasonal distributions of mortality rates in mainland Spain and their association with climatic conditions over the period 1979–2016. The analysis was done on a seasonal and annual basis using 79 climatic indices and regional natural deaths data. Results indicate large spatial variability of natural deaths, which is mostly related to how the share of the elderly in the population varied across the studied regions. Spatially, both the highest mortality rates and the largest percentage of elders were found in the northwest areas of the study domain, where an extreme climate prevails, with very cold winters and hot summers. A strong seasonality effect was observed, winter shows more than 10% of natural deaths compared to the rest of the seasons. Also, results suggest a strong relation between climatic indices and natural deaths, albeit with a high spatial and seasonal variability. Climatic indices and natural deaths show a stronger correlation in winter and summer than in spring and autumn.