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Durham University

Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience

News

General News Headlines

The team engaged in the BIOPICCC research project, funded by EPSRC, and associated with IHRR, have published a review paper as part of a ‘report card’ published by the UKRC living with Environmental Change programme

(11 January 2016)

Details of the review are as follows:

Health Climate Change impacts report card technical paper # 6.

Impact of extreme weather events and climate change for health and social care systems

Sarah Curtis1, Alistair Fair2, Jonathan Wistow1, Dimitri Val3, Katie Oven1.

1Durham University;

2Cambridge University;

3Heriot-Watt University.

http://www.nerc.ac.uk/research/partnerships/lwec/products/report-cards/health/papers/source06/

 

Other background review papers linked to this record card can be found at:

http://www.nerc.ac.uk/research/partnerships/lwec/products/report-cards/health/papers/

 

The summary record card can be viewed at: http://www.nerc.ac.uk/research/partnerships/lwec/products/report-cards/health/

 

Below is an announcement from the UKRC Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) programme:

Publication of the updated LWEC Climate Change Impacts Report Card on Health

We are pleased to announce the publication of the Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) Climate Change Impacts Report Card on Health.

The Report Card is aimed at anyone interested in understanding the latest evidence on the impacts of climate change on people’s physical and mental health as well as the resilience of the UK’s health services. It provides a comprehensive overview of what we know about existing trends and sensitivities and assesses how climate change may impact our health in the future.

The Report Card is underpinned by 10 technical topic papers commissioned from leading experts, each of which presents a review of current scientific research and evidence for the impact that climate change is likely to have on the health of the UK population. The Report Card has been designed to make it easier to understand the nature of possible change and to help inform decisions that will protect our wellbeing.

 

Headline findings from the 2015 Report Card include:

· The UK climate is changing

Since 1980, temperatures have increased by 0.8-1°C, with an increase in hot weather and a decrease in cold days. Although average rainfall does not show a strong trend, more rain is falling as heavy events.

· Many people will experience climate change through extreme weather

Floods may increase due to increases in heavy rainfall and sea level rise. Some coastal populations will become more at risk of storm surge events. Apart from deaths due to drowning, the most significant health impact from flooding is on mental health, which can persist for many months due to household disruption and displacement.

· Climate change will entail hotter summers and more heat waves

Deaths and illness due to very hot weather are likely to increase, and the growing number of older people means more of the population will become vulnerable to hot weather. However, the rate at which a population adapts to higher temperatures is not well understood.

· Climate change will entail milder winters which will benefit health

Although declining, cold-related deaths and illness remain a large public health problem in the UK. Milder winters are likely to produce a relative reduction in cold-related deaths, but this may be counteracted by the increase in the number of older people.

· Climate change may affect the risk of emerging infectious diseases

Climate change may facilitate the introduction of new diseases to the UK, in the context of other important factors that increase this risk (e.g. the movement of people and goods around the world). Native insect and tick species may become more capable of transmitting diseases that affect humans.

· Climate change may affect the quality of the air we breathe

Air quality is currently poor in some urban areas of the UK. Future emissions of pollutants (some of which also cause climate change) are likely to be more significant than climate change itself in terms of affecting air quality over the next few decades. However, there may be an increase in the number of episodes where high levels of pollution are caused by particular weather patterns (e.g. heatwaves and ‘stagnation’ events).

· Our health systems are affected by extreme weather, with adverse impacts felt by patients, staff and equipment

The delivery of health and social care is disrupted by extreme weather such as floods, storms, heatwaves and severe winters. Overheating in hospitals can be reduced by retrofitting and by good design.

 

The card has been designed primarily to be downloaded as a click-through pdf and is now available on the LWEC website at http://www.nerc.ac.uk/research/partnerships/lwec/products/report-cards/health/. You can also access the technical papers which underpin the card and other relevant information from the website or the click-through document.

Please help us to disseminate the card as widely as possible by forwarding the link to it to others in your organisation and stakeholder networks. If you have any queries or would like further information about the Report Card series, please contact penny.gordon@lwec.org.uk .