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The impact of recent heat waves on human health in California

TitleThe impact of recent heat waves on human health in California
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsGuirguis K., Gershunov A, Tardy A., Basu R.
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Date Published2014/01
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1558-8424
Accession NumberWOS:000330770000001
Keywordscities; Emergency preparedness; high ambient-temperature; mortality; planning; Regional effects; roles; Societal impacts; temperature; united-states; variability; visits

This study examines the health impacts of recent heat waves statewide and for six subregions of California: the north and south coasts, the Central Valley, the Mojave Desert, southern deserts, and northern forests. By using canonical correlation analysis applied to daily maximum temperatures and morbidity data in the form of unscheduled hospitalizations from 1999 to 2009, 19 heat waves spanning 3-15 days in duration that had a significant impact on health were identified. On average, hospital admissions were found to increase by 7% on the peak heat-wave day, with a significant impact seen for several disease categories, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, dehydration, acute renal failure, heat illness, and mental health. Statewide, there were 11 000 excess hospitalizations that were due to extreme heat over the period, yet the majority of impactful events were not accompanied by a heat advisory or warning from the National Weather Service. On a regional basis, the strongest health impacts are seen in the Central Valley and the north and south coasts. The north coast contributes disproportionately to the statewide health impact during heat waves, with a 10.5% increase in daily morbidity at heat-wave peak as compared with 8.1% for the Central Valley and 5.6% for the south coast. The temperature threshold at which an impact is seen varies by subregion and timing within the season. These results suggest that heat-warning criteria should consider local percentile thresholds to account for acclimation to local climatological conditions as well as the seasonal timing of a forecast heat wave.

Short TitleJ. Appl. Meteorol. Climatol.
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