Monday, June 2, 2014

Study links urbanization, future heat-related mortality

Arizona State University News:  ...Phoenix stands at a parched crossroads. Global scale climate change is forecast to bring hotter summers and more extreme heat to the Valley, but regional urbanization also will impact temperatures experienced by residents.

So how should Phoenix grow knowing that such growth could cause temperatures to increase in the future and bring added health risks? Should the city deploy mitigating technologies to help fight summer’s heat? Would adopting a low-growth strategy reduce the adverse health consequences of hot weather?

New Arizona State University research examines the heat-health aspects resulting from urbanization and the challenge of sustainable future growth in Maricopa County. A study released this week shows how urban development could be a factor in the number of lives lost due to heat in future summers. The study is described in the article, “Challenges associated with projecting urbanization-induced heat-related mortality” published in the current online issue of the journal Science of the Total Environment.

“Extreme heat is the leading weather-related killer in the United States,” said David Hondula, a postdoctoral scholar in health informatics in ASU’s Center for Policy Informatics and lead author of the study. “In Maricopa County, we see more than 100 premature deaths and hundreds of excess emergency department visits as a result of high temperatures each summer. Understanding how different urban development strategies will impact the health risks associated with heat can help long-term planners and public officials make more informed decisions that lead to sustainable and healthy cities.”

...Overall, projections of heat related mortality ranged from a decrease of 46 deaths per year (-95 percent) to an increase of 339 deaths per year (+359 percent). Projections based on minimum temperature showed the greatest increase for all expansion and adaptation scenarios and were substantially higher than those for daily mean temperature. Projections based on maximum temperature were largely associated with declining mortality. Low growth and adaptation scenarios led to the smallest increase in predicted heat related mortality based on mean temperature projections....

An aerial photo of Phoenix, shot by CyberXRef, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons 3.0 license

No comments: