Ambient temperature may contribute to seasonality of mortality; in particular, a warming climate is likely to influence the seasonality of mortality. However, few studies have investigated seasonality of mortality under a warming climate.
Daily mean temperature, daily counts for all-cause, circulatory, and respiratory mortality, and annual data on prefecture-specific characteristics were collected for 47 prefectures in Japan between 1972 and 2015. A quasi-Poisson regression model was used to assess the seasonal variation of mortality with a focus on its amplitude, which was quantified as the ratio of mortality estimates between the peak and trough days (peak-to-trough ratio (PTR)). We quantified the contribution of temperature to seasonality by comparing PTR before and after temperature adjustment. Associations between annual mean temperature and annual estimates of the temperature-unadjusted PTR were examined using multilevel multivariate meta-regression models controlling for prefecture-specific characteristics.
The temperature-unadjusted PTRs for all-cause, circulatory, and respiratory mortality were 1.28 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.27–1.30), 1.53 (95% CI: 1.50–1.55), and 1.46 (95% CI: 1.44–1.48), respectively; adjusting for temperature reduced these PTRs to 1.08 (95% CI: 1.08–1.10), 1.10 (95% CI: 1.08–1.11), and 1.35 (95% CI: 1.32–1.39), respectively. During the period of rising temperature (1.3 °C on average), decreases in the temperature-unadjusted PTRs were observed for all mortality causes except circulatory mortality. For each 1 °C increase in annual mean temperature, the temperature-unadjusted PTR for all-cause, circulatory, and respiratory mortality decreased by 0.98% (95% CI: 0.54–1.42), 1.39% (95% CI: 0.82–1.97), and 0.13% (95% CI: − 1.24 to 1.48), respectively.
Seasonality of mortality is driven partly by temperature, and its amplitude may be decreasing under a warming climate.