Previous Research

Title: Drought-Related Health Impacts: Advancing the Science for Public Health Applications

Funding Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Timeline: 2018-2019

Brief description: This funding was designed to develop three projects that are designed to advance our understanding of the impacts of drought on human health. The project is also identifying opportunities to forge an alliance between drought and public health communities to collectively address potential health outcomes from drought. The first project is building on his previous work to determine the role of soil moisture on predicting incidence of Valley fever. The second task is evaluating the changes in mortality rates during periods of drought. The third task is to identify and scope opportunities for future interaction/collaboration with drought communities and public health communities through a series of strategic workshops. This project is in the second year of funding and has produced a National Drought and Public Health Summit in Atlanta, along with subsequent regional workshops.

Goal: This project was one of the first projects to evaluate and understand the impacts of drought on human health in the United States.


Title: Using Extreme Weather Event Attribution to Determine the Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health

Funding Agency: Society of Actuaries

Timeline: 2019-2020

Brief description: Climate change is already a threat to human health. Evidence has linked climate change to increases in the frequency and intensity of some extreme weather events. Because of scientific advances in understanding the relationship between climate change and extremes, the conversation can now transition from identifying changes in historical trends of extreme events to determining the effect climate change has on a given single extreme event. This new study area in climate science is called extreme event attribution. Understanding these relationships provides new opportunities to determine the current and project the future impacts of climate change on society and the health delivery system. The connection between extreme weather events and human health is already well established. With the advent of extreme event attribution, there is now an opportunity to identify the contribution that climate change has on human health, and the cost of healthcare, because of more intense and frequent extreme events in many parts of the world. The goal of this project is to provide examples of the influence climate change has on extreme events and link this additional burden to health needs and the cost of care.

Goal: This project helped inform the health insurance industry and healthcare actuarial community on the potential impacts climate change is already having on their fields. In particular, the results of this project provide a quantitative methodology for insurance companies to understand the potential impacts that these events have on their current and future risk profile and resulting costs.