New Yorkers' health will be affected by climate change, new study shows

06/15/04

Results to be discussed at June 25th event at Columbia University

New York will be hotter in the future, and some New Yorkers could be sicker as a result, according to a study to be released at an event on June 25th hosted by the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health. The study, involving three years of research by Columbia's New York Climate and Health Project (NYCHP), investigated the health impacts of climate change scenarios in the region. On Friday June 25, the authors will launch the study with a summary and workshop on its major findings.

What: Climate Change and Health in New York City
A Study by the New York Climate & Health Project
When: Friday June 25, 2004, 9:30-11:30a.m.
Where: Harison Room
Faculty House
Columbia University (Enter Amsterdam at 116th Street)

In the future we can look forward to more and longer air quality alerts, more heat stress, and illness or deaths related to these, according to project director Joyce Rosenthal of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School. "Some neighborhoods will suffer more, especially poorer neighborhoods with less greenery and more asphalt, which can create a heat island effect." The study, officially titled Modeling Heat and Air Quality Impacts of Changing Urban Land Uses and Climate, looked at climate and health projections through 2080.



People in neighborhoods with less greenery and more asphalt will suffer greater health effects as New York's climate grows warmer. Photo credit: Mark Inglis

Full size image available here.

"Even if there is no climate catastrophe in our century, incremental change is happening now and New Yorkers should start thinking about what that means and how to adapt," says Steve Cohen, head of the Earth Institute's New York City research initiative. The June 25 event will provide a chance for scientists, members of government, and others interested in the implications of climate change to discuss the study's findings.

"Our interdisciplinary group of researchers has developed and tested ground-breaking methods for predicting local temperature and air quality changes due to climate and land use changes over the coming century, and for assessing related health impacts," adds Patrick Kinney, associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School, principal investigator of the study and an expert in health impacts of air quality.

The scientists, with funding from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, developed an integrated regional assessment linking models for land-use/land cover, global climate change, regional climate change, atmospheric chemistry and pollution transport, and studied the predicted impacts of heat stress and air quality on public health.

The New York Climate and Health Project grew out of a previous regional climate impacts study called the Metro East Coast Climate Assessment (http://metroeast_climate.ciesin.columbia.edu), which was part of a national congressional survey of regional climate change implications. The MEC assessment was co-led by Earth Institute scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig and William Solecki of Hunter College, who are also investigators on the New York Climate & Health Project. That project involved downscaling climate change and sea-level rise scenarios for the New York metropolitan region, researching impacts in many sectors (including infrastructure, health, water and energy), and devising adaptation and mitigation strategies.

As Dr. Kinney explains, the climate and health group was developed to address the need for modeling systems that are capable of looking at many factors together and assessing local impacts of climate change. Aside from heat and air quality impacts on health, the group also incorporated land use changes since those will also impact surface temperature and air quality. The study brought together global climate change modelers, regional climate modelers, regional air quality modelers, land use modelers, and health scientists.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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