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Winter season climate prediction for the UK health sector.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

GR McGregor, ML Cox, J Zhiang, Y Huang, M Davey, R Graham, A Brookshaw

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1782 - 1792
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number12

King's Authors


The winter climate of the British Isles is characterized by considerable interannual variability, which, because of the general climate sensitivity of a number of health outcomes, places at times considerable pressure on the provision of health services. Seasonal climate forecasts potentially could improve management within the health sector and assist in hedging against the vagaries of climatic variability. For this reason, an exploratory analysis of the potential utility of seasonal climate forecasting for the health sector in the United Kingdom is presented here. Study results revealed that the general level of winter mortality at the monthly to seasonal time scale possesses a strong association with simple descriptors of winter climate such as maximum temperature and the number of days below a given temperature threshold. Because such climate indices can be derived from the output of coupled seasonal climate prediction models, predictions of general levels of mortality may be possible using simple transfer functions that describe winter climate and health associations. Despite the potential one-month-ahead and one-season-ahead predictability of winter mortality levels, the predictability of the key climate indices by coupled climate models is shown to be somewhat limited, which compromises the ability to predict general levels of winter mortality for all months except February.

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