The Association between Heat and Mortality in Virginia Climate Divisions

Authors: Gina Li*, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colleen Reid, University of Colorado, Boulder, Brian Zaharatos, University of Colorado, Boulder
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Communication
Keywords: heat, health, generalized additive model, GIS, web mapping, web, extreme, Virginia, counties
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Madison A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Extreme heat is the leading cause of annual weather-related deaths in the United States and such events are expected to increase in intensity, duration, and frequency with climate change. It is well-known that different regions have unique relationships between daily heat and mortalities. While these associations have been investigated for most major U.S cities and various counties, no studies have examined this relationship in Virginia communities. This study describes the relationship between heat daily heat index and deaths in Virginia climate regions for a time period of 36 years (1979-1988 and 1990-2016) using time series and regression analyses. Data included daily temperature, relative humidity, and heat index acquired from the gridMET dataset. Nonaccidental death counts were acquired from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for years 1979-1989 and from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) from 1990-2016. Poisson generalized additive models were used to examine the relationship between daily heat index and deaths during the summer months (April to September).From the time period 1979-1988, heat index and deaths were found to be negative and linearly correlated in the Northern and Eastern Piedmont climate regions. For the Southwestern Mountain, Western Piedmont, Central Mountain, and Tidewater climate regions, the relationship was non-linear, but the effect of heat did not depart much from a 60°F threshold.
Conclusion Given these associations, it is important to further explore the relationship between heat and deaths in Mid-Atlantic communities, as the association between daily heat and deaths may not be as pronounced as other geographic regions.

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