Chapter 29. Weather Types and Cardiovascular/Respiratory Mortality in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Greece: A Synoptic Climatology Approach to Protect Public Health


Paraskevi Begou¹, Ilias Petrou¹, Kyriaki Psistaki², Ioannis M. Dokas³ and Anastasia K. Paschalidou²
¹Laboratory of Meteorology, Department of Physics, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece
²Department of Forestry and Management of the Environment and Natural Resources, Democritus University of Thrace, Greece
³Department of Civil Engineering, Democritus University of Thrace, Greece

Part of the book: The Challenges of Disaster Planning, Management, and Resilience


The association between extreme weather and various adverse health outcomes has been established by numerous epidemiological studies worldwide. For instance, the respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses are known to exacerbate during heat waves and cold spells. The aim of this study was to identify weather types over the region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace associated with cardiovascular and respiratory mortality, in order to predict and prevent harmful weather-related impacts on human health. For this purpose, we employed daily datasets of 500 hPa and 1,000 hPa geopotential heights, 2 m temperature, specific humidity, 2 m zonal and meridional wind and total cloud cover from the NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis, gridded at a resolution of 2.5°×2.5° and covering a 41-year time-period (1980-2020). We applied Principal Component Analysis as a dimensionality reduction tool and then k-means Cluster Analysis, in order to group days with homogeneous meteorological patterns. Six discrete weather types (WTs) were identified and their correlation with mortality due to respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses was studied by using the PI sign-test. The analysis revealed that three WTs are mostly associated with increased mortality in the region. These are (a) the Anticyclonic A3 conditions over the Balkans and/or Greece, (b) the W2 depression type of weather which brings cold weather and rain all over Greece, and (c) the NW1 depression type which is centered on the west of Eastern Macedonia and brings cold weather and strong winds. The results of this study could be used by the local authorities and stakeholders when applying weather health-watch warning systems in order to respond accurately and timely to protect public health by means of issuing warnings for potentially harmful weather, as well as allocating resources and developing readiness.

Keywords: weather types, mortality risk, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (EMT)


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