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Climate Epidemiology

Climate change profoundly affects human health in multiple ways, including the direct health effects of ambient temperature and extreme weather events. Our research has advanced our understanding of how extreme temperatures can affect a comprehensive spectrum of diseases, including myocardial infarction (i.e., heart attack), unintentional injuries, and mental disorders. Our ongoing and future work will investigate the understudied climate-disease associations, including a new project on the associations between extreme precipitation, floods, drought, and childhood diarrhea.

Predicting spatiotemporally-resolved mean air temperature over Sweden from satellite data using an ensemble model.

In this study, we applied a three-stage ensemble model to estimate daily mean Ta from satellite-based land surface temperature (Ts) over Sweden during 2001–2019 at a high spatial resolution of 1 × 1 km2. The ensemble model incorporated four base models, including a generalized additive model (GAM), a generalized additive mixed model (GAMM), and two machine learning models (random forest [RF] and extreme gradient boosting [XGBoost]). The ensemble model showed high performance with an overall R2 of 0.98 and a root mean square error of 1.38 °C in the ten-fold cross-validation.

Jin et al. Environ Res, 2022

This study demonstrated more substantial effects of heat on mortality in rural vs. urban areas and revealed some of the factors that drove the enhanced risk in rural areas, such as lower access to health care, lower education, less air conditioning, and more percentage of the elderly. Under climate change, these rural residents in developing countries could suffer from more heat-related mortality in the future than urban residents.

Chen et al. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2016.

A comprehensive spectrum of diseases associated with extreme temperatures

This time-series study quantified the mortality burden attributable to heat and cold for a comprehensive spectrum of plausible diseases, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertensive heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes.

Ma et al. Environment International. 2020.

In collaboration with Dr. Eun-hye Yoo at the State University of New York at Buffalo, our study reveals the adverse effects of heat on mental disorders (e.g. mood and anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and dementia) in the New York State.

Yoo et al. Science of the Total Environment, 2021.

Drought and childhood diarrhea in low- and middle-income countries

Diarrhea is a leading killer of young children around the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In this study using data from 51 LMICs, we found higher rates of diarrhea among children who were living through extended drought. The association was stronger among children living in a household that needed longer time to collect water or had no access to water or soap/detergent for handwashing.

Wang et al. Nat Commun, 2022