ATTACH: ATTributing heAt-related excess mortality and morbidity to Climate cHange (2021-2025)

Study Topic

Climate change is known to affect deaths and hospitalizations associated with heat exposure in Europe. Yet, despite a broad epidemiological knowledge base on the future impacts of climate change, few studies so far have formally attributed heat-related mortality and morbidity to climate change that has already occurred over the past century. ATTACH contributes to the closing of this important research gap, with a special focus on recent European heatwaves. The project makes use of death count and hospitalization statistics from major cities in Germany, and combines state-of-the-art epidemiological approaches with an innovative approach to climate impact attribution. This novel approach derives counterfactual climate data, mimicking a world without climate change, from detrended observations.

Specific objectives

  1. Determine heatwave-related excess mortality in 15 major German cities during the period 1993 to 2016, and quantify the contribution of past-century climate change to the estimated excess mortality. This analysis will differentiate between age groups, sex, and causes of death. 
  2. Assess warm-season associations between heat and cause-specific hospitalizations in 15 major German cities during the period 2000 to 2016, and determine the contribution of past-century climate change to the magnitude of observed heat-attributable hospitalizations. The analysis will account for effect modification by ambient air pollution.

Study design

Epidemiological models: Time-series regression models including distributed lag non-linear models. Meta-analytical methods to pool city-specific results and to study longitudinal changes. Climate data: century-long temperature records from measurement stations combined with novel detrending methods to construct climate counterfactuals

Current status



Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by the European Commission (Grant ID: 101032087), funding period: 2021-2025


  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, IBE-Chair of Epidemiology/Helmholtz Zentrum München, Institute of Epidemiology


Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health
Institute of Epidemiology
Dr. Veronika Huber


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