Apr 24, 2013

Shifts in the seasonal distribution of deaths in Australia, 1968-2007

Bennett CM, Dear KB, McMichael AJ
Pub Med
  • Examines the ratio of summer to winter deaths in Australia against a background of rising average annual temperatures over four decades: the ratio has increased from 0.71 to 0.86 since 1968
  • States that the same trend, albeit of varying strength, is evident in all states of Australia, in four age groups (aged 55 years and above) and in both sexes
  • Analysis of cause-specific mortality suggests that the change has so far been driven more by reduced winter mortality than by increased summer mortality
  • Comparisons of this seasonal mortality ratio calculated in the warmest subsets of seasons in each decade, with that calculated in the coldest seasons, show that particularly warm annual conditions, which mimic the expected temperatures of future climate change, increase the likelihood of higher ratios (approaching 1:1)
  • Results indicate that gradual climate change, as well as short-term weather variations, affect patterns of mortality