Heat waves are a leading cause of weather-related mortality in the northeastern U.S., particularly among vulnerable populations. Thus, a good understanding of effective interventions to reduce heat wave-related mortality is essential for public health adaptation to climate change in the region. However, the relationship between utilization of heat health warning systems and mortality during heat wave episodes has yet to be well understood and quantified. A major barrier to assessing the effectiveness of heat health warning systems is the lack of clearly outlined decision making process, and interactions among the various organizations and communities before and during heat wave events. An important consequence of this ambiguity is the suboptimal utilization of climate information in public health planning, decision making and communication. The project will address these challenges by documenting current use of climate information by stakeholder institutions in Boston, Philadelphia and New York and building detailed institutional maps of their decision making processes. The health team will also analyze the relationship between heat waves and mortality in the three cities and provide an assessment of the effectiveness of existing heat health warning systems. Based on this work, the team will also develop climate information and decision support tools in collaboration with stakeholders and outline strategies for improved public health response to heat waves at the city level.
Investigators: Patrick Kinney, Mark Arend, Malgosia Madajewicz, Elisaveta Petkova, Julia Morrison, Mayu Sasaki