Frequency of Extreme Heat Event as a Surrogate Exposure Metric for Examining the Human Health Effects of Climate Change
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Epidemiological investigation of the impact of climate change on human health, particularly chronic diseases, is hindered by the lack of exposure metrics that can be used as a marker of climate change that are compatible with health data. Here, we present a surrogate exposure metric created using a 30-year baseline (1960–1989) that allows users to quantify long-term changes in exposure to frequency of extreme heat events with near unabridged spatial coverage in a scale that is compatible with national/state health outcome data. We evaluate the exposure metric by decade, seasonality, area of the country, and its ability to capture long-term changes in weather (climate), including natural climate modes. Our findings show that this generic exposure metric is potentially useful to monitor trends in the frequency of extreme heat events across varying regions because it captures long-term changes; is sensitive to the natural climate modes (ENSO events); responds well to spatial variability, and; is amenable to spatial/temporal aggregation, making it useful for epidemiological studies.
Funding for Open Access provided by the UMD Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.