A biometeorology study of climate and heat-related morbidity in Phoenix from 2001 to 2006
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- Golden, J.S., Hartz, D., Brazel, A. et al. Int J Biometeorol (2008) 52: 471. doi:10.1007/s00484-007-0142-3
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Heat waves kill more people in the United States than hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods combined. Recently, international attention focused on the linkages and impacts of human health vulnerability to urban climate when Western Europe experienced over 30,000 excess deaths during the heat waves of the summer of 2003—surpassing the 1995 heat wave in Chicago, Illinois, that killed 739. While Europe dealt with heat waves, in the United States, Phoenix, Arizona, established a new all-time high minimum temperature for the region on July 15, 2003. The low temperature of 35.5°C (96°F) was recorded, breaking the previous all-time high minimum temperature record of 33.8°C (93°F). While an extensive literature on heat-related mortality exists, greater understanding of influences of heat-related morbidity is required due to climate change and rapid urbanization influences. We undertook an analysis of 6 years (2001–2006) of heat-related dispatches through the Phoenix Fire Department regional dispatch center to examine temporal, climatic and other non-spatial influences contributing to high-heat-related medical dispatch events. The findings identified that there were no significant variations in day-of-week dispatch events. The greatest incidence of heat-related medical dispatches occurred between the times of peak solar irradiance and maximum diurnal temperature, and during times of elevated human comfort indices (combined temperature and relative humidity).