Projection of future temperature extremes, related mortality, and adaptation due to climate and population changes in Taiwan

Chu Chih Chen*, Yin Ru Wang, Yu Chun Wang, Shiou Li Lin, Cheng Ta Chen, Mong Ming Lu, Yue Liang L. Guo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Extreme temperature events have been observed to appear more frequently and with greater intensity in Taiwan in recent decades due to climate change, following the global trend. Projections of temperature extremes across different climate zones and their impacts on related mortality and adaptation have not been well studied. Methods: We projected site-specific future temperature extremes by statistical downscaling of 8 global climate models followed by Bayesian model averaging from 2021 to 2060 across Taiwan under the representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5. We then calculated the attributable mortality (AM) in 6 municipalities and in the eastern area by multiplying the city/county- and degree-specific relative risk of mortality according to the future population projections. We estimated the degree of adaptation to heat by slope reduction of the projected AM to be comparable with that in 2018. Results: The annual number of hot days with mean temperatures over 30 °C was predicted to have a substantial 2- to 5-fold increase throughout the residential areas of Taiwan by the end of 2060 under RCP8.5, whereas the decrease in cold days was less substantial. The decrease in cold-related mortality below 15 °C was projected to outweigh heat-related mortality for the next two decades, and then heat-related mortality was predicted to drastically increase and cross over cold-related mortality, surpassing it from 2045 to 2055. Adjusting for future population size, the percentage increase in heat-related deaths per 100,000 people could increase by more than 10-fold under the worst scenario (RCP8.5), especially for those over 65 years old. The heat-related impacts will be most severe in southern Taiwan, which has a tropical climate. There is a very high demand for heat-adaptation prior to 2050 under all RCP scenarios. Conclusions: Spatiotemporal variations in AM in cities in different climate zones are projected in Taiwan and are expected to have a net negative effect in the near future before shifting to a net positive effect from 2045 to 2055. However, there is an overall positive and increasing trend of net effect for elderly individuals under all the emission scenarios. Active adaptation plans need to be well developed to face future challenges due to climate change, especially for the elderly population in central and southern Taiwan.

Original languageEnglish
Article number143373
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume760
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar 15

Keywords

  • Bayesian model average
  • Climate zone
  • Crossover
  • Representative concentration pathway
  • Statistical downscaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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