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Monday, May 20, 2024

from the 12 ºC difference within Galicia to 1.8 in Madrid

Spain is the second European country that registers the most deaths from heatwith more than 11,000 deaths in the summer of 2022. Given this situation, the Ministry of Health Every year it activates the national plan for preventive actions for the effects of temperatures on health in order to try to reduce this devastating figure. The protocol has already been launched in 2024 and includes a important novelty: starting June 3, it will have a reference map that will alert of heat episodes in each territory. The map presents some curiosities, among them the contrasts that occur within the same region, with maximum risk thresholds that register differences in more than ten degrees Celsius depending on the area.

The temperature differences between the north and south of Spain are evident and this is reflected in the maximum temperature risk thresholds in the document published this Thursday by the Ministry of Monica Garcia. The Córdoba countryside has the highest data of the entire country (40.4 ºC), while the western and eastern coasts of Asturias register the lowest (23.9 ºC). This means that there is a difference of 16.5 degrees Celsius between the temperatures that are considered high risk in one place and another.

The most and least disparate

It is also striking that the figures can be quite different between provinces and territories of the same community. The autonomy that reflects the greatest contrast is Galicia, since the threshold in Miño de Ourense is 37.5 ºC, while in A Mariña (Lugo) it is 25.5 ºC. It is a difference of 12 degrees centigrade. Then it follows Castile and León, where the 38.2 degrees in the south of Ávila and 28.5 ºC in the Cantabrian mountain range of Palencia contrast. In this case the disparity is 9.7 degrees Celsius.

In third place is Andalusia, with 40.4 ºC in the Córdoba countryside and 32.1 in Sol and Guadalhorce (Málaga), which reflect a difference of 8.3 ºC between the risk thresholds. The fourth position is occupied by Valencian Community, with 38.1 ºC in the southern interior of Valencia and 29.9 ºC in the northern interior of Castellón. In the territories of said autonomy the disparity is up to 8.2 degrees Celsius.

Two people walk with umbrellas along the Rambla Nova in Tarragona.

At the other extreme, that is, among the autonomous communities that register lower temperature changes between the areas that are within their borders, the Madrid, La Rioja and Extremadura. In the Community of Madrid The figure in the Metropolitan Area and Corredor del Henares stands at 35.9 ºC, while in the Sierra the risk threshold is 34.1 ºC, which represents a difference of 1.8 ºC. In The Rioja The disparity between the Ribera del Ebro (34.2 ºC) and the Ribera Rioja (31.9 ºC) is 2.3 degrees Celsius. And in Estremadurathe change between Extremadura’s Siberia (39.7 ºC) and the Cáceres Plateau (36.3 ºC) is 3.4 degrees.

In the rest of the autonomies (Aragón, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia, Navarra and the Balearic Islands) the data between the irrigation thresholds of the territories that make up each community It is between four and seven degrees, approximately. Among them, the case of the Canary Islands stands out, since on the same island the temperatures can be significantly different. In the west of La Palma, for example, the threshold is 35.2 ºC, while in the east the figure is 30.2 ºC. That is to say, a disparity of five degrees Celsius.

Risk factor’s

To establish these criteria that make up the action plan, the different risk factors associated with exposure to high temperatures were taken into consideration. The focus was placed on the vulnerable people, that is, in those who are over 65 years old, in those under four, pregnant women, and people with cardiovascular, respiratory and mental diseases. Also in those with chronic ailments and acute during episodes of excessive temperatures and in those who consume alcohol and drugs.

Likewise, environmental, labor and social factors were taken into account. Among them are: people who live alone, homeless and with unfavorable economic conditions; the excessive exposure to heat for work-related reasons and in educational centers, and environmental pollution, among others.

The focus was also placed on local factors, due to the great disparities that exist between some territories. Among them are demographics, which determines the population pyramid and vulnerable groups, and the adaptation of people to the climate of their area. “This explains that the effect of thermal extremes does not depend on absolute values, but rather on whether or not we are within the normal range of temperatures in a certain place,” the document indicates.

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