Blue Track (C-18): Heat Stress and Air Quality

- Session Description (click to collapse)

What information do decision-makers need to have to fully understand how climate change will affect human health and well-being with respect to air quality and heat stress?

In this session, we will discuss data gaps and actionable information on two main topics

  • Interrelationships between air quality and climate change
  • Interrelationships between heat stress and climate change

A brief presentation of a more in-depth look at the effects of climate change on air quality and heat stress will be provided by Cindy Parker, and Dr. Anand Gnanadesikan will then provide a brief introduction/overview of climate modeling capabilities and limitations, particularly with respect to air quality and heat waves.

Recommended Resources

- Moderator (click to collapse)

Cindy Parker
Cindy Parker

Cindy Parker is an Assistant Professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences; co-Director of the Program on Global Sustainability and Health; co-Director of the M.P.H. Concentration in Global Environmental Sustainability and Health; and Associate Director of the Environment, Energy, Sustainability, and Health Institute. She works on climate change policy change initiatives for the state of Maryland and nationally. Her interests include how global environmental issues such as climate change are communicated in such a way as to motivate behavior change. The interplay between peak oil and climate change is another area of interest, as is working with communities to solve local and global environmental problems and sustainable development issues.

Dr. Parker’s honors and awards include induction into the Delta Omega Alpha Public Health Honor Society in 2000, a 1987–1988 American Association of University Women Educational Fellowship, a 1986 Edith Petrie Brown Award for Outstanding Community Service to Women, a 1986 Ciba Geigy Award for Outstanding Community Service, and a 1984 Schaible Memorial Award for Outstanding Biology Student of the Year.


M.P.H., The Johns Hopkins University, 2000
M.D., University of Arizona, 1988

- Notes (click to collapse)

Blue Track: Heat Stress and Air Quality

Morning Session
Cindy Parker (Moderator)


Opening comments and presentation: Climate models 101 for air quality
Prof. Anand Gnanadesikan, JHU Earth and Planetary Sciences

What are components of climate models: 
A. Dynamic cores (atmosphere, ocean, ice)
-Start with state of the system (eg. temp, salinity, etc)
-Compute flows resulting
** These equations are generally the same between models

B. Parameterizations of subgridscale processes
- examples: vertical, lateral mixing, breaking waves, clouds and effects, some chemistry
** These differ substantially between models

Climate models are not tuned to individual areas (i.e. atmosphere over India) 
Must match a simmulation model to a specific area
Example: Climate modeling for just the impact of climate change on air quality (controlling for temp, emissions, etc)
-Used insoluble tracer at upper atmosphere to reflect changes in vertical mixing
-Concentrations of insoluble tracer everywhere compare results (figures in Anand's presentation)
Reason for soluble changes- thermodynamics, precipitation (drizzle decreases, heavy rains increase)
Results in context: Less verticle exchange driven by thermodynamics. Common across models. Causes pollution to increase. 
Less wet deposition driven by physical processes.

All models are wrong, some models are useful
-Using complex modeling can help to make predicitons and used for policy change

Predictability vs. Variability: This question is important for health and policy decision making
-Understanding climate variability is important (3-5 yr variability is difficult to predict)

Predictability not often used for long-term projections: Forward projections, scenarios, forecasting


Introduction to the GAIA website and breakout session information
Robert Schaefer

>Agenda>Blue Track Session
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Discussion: What kind of information is needed for decision makers?

Economic Costs
- data on what are the costs linking climate change to health outcomes and costs to health systems
- communication: need simple numbers for cost in jobs, dollars, etc.
- Example: The Cost of Athsma (Brenda Afzal worked on issuing this report) 
- What else can we use to illustrate health impacts?

Translation of Sciences 
- Scientists understand the links between heat, ozone, climate change, etc.  
  Need translation for policy makers to make this connection
- Visualizations: take model data (simplified) and making output match health implications
  Input/output modelling may be helpful in addressing this
- Interrelated issues: in Arizona ozone level exceedance days results in reduced funding.  
  Need for resolution and communication

Direct Health Effects
- Gap in data in understanding how heat stress and air pollution interract to increase morbidity and      
- Need for understanding of cummulative impact

Shared data on health
- Health data on the US harder to find and use than in developing countries
  Access to data is necessary for public health
- Model sharing is also important

Making the problem the right size
- Global warming is not the only issue, must recognize the scale of factors (development, energy, health, 

- Downscaling data/high resolution data reanalysis
- Moving forward we should look for technology that measures meaningful, localized data reporting

Capturing social aspects
- Example: urban heat stress and morbidity/mortality


Break for Lunch




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Observatories, astronomical by Peter.McCullough
This should be something that by Anand.Gnanadesikan
Need to Monetize Impacts by Bill.Swartz
GHG and air quality by Anand.Gnanadesikan
history of air pollution by Linda.Hinnov
Great question. In general we by Anand.Gnanadesikan