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A comparative climate analysis of heat-related emergency 911 dispatches: Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona USA 2003 to 2006


Research into the health impacts of heat has proliferated since 2000. Temperature increases could exacerbate the increased heat already experienced by urban populations due to urbanization. Heat-related mortality studies have found that hot southern cities in North America have not experienced the summer increases in mortality found in their more northern counterparts. Heat-related morbidity studies have not assessed this possible regional difference. This comparison study uses data from emergency 911 dispatches [referred to as heat-related dispatches (HRD)] identified by responders as heat-related for two United States cities located in different regions with very different climates: Chicago, Illinois in the upper midwest and Phoenix, Arizona in the southwest. Phoenix’s climate is hot and arid. Chicago’s climate is more temperate, but can also experience days with unusually high temperatures combined with high humidity. This study examines the relationships between rising HRD and daily temperatures: maximum (Tmax); apparent (ATmax): minimum (Tmin) and two energy balance indices (PET and UTCI). Phoenix had more HRD cumulatively, over a longer warm weather season, but did not experience the large spikes in HRD that occurred in Chicago, even though it was routinely subjected to much hotter weather conditions. Statistical analyses showed the strongest relationships to daily ATmax for both cities. Phoenix’s lack of HRD spikes, similar to the summer mortality patterns for southern cities, suggests an avenue for future research to better understand the dynamics of possible physiological or behavioral adaption that seems to reduce residents’ vulnerability to heat.

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We would like to thank Nancy Selover, Arizona State Climatologist for climate data, the Phoenix Fire Department and City of Chicago Department of Environment for their technical assistance.

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Correspondence to Donna A. Hartz.

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Hartz, D.A., Brazel, A.J. & Golden, J.S. A comparative climate analysis of heat-related emergency 911 dispatches: Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona USA 2003 to 2006. Int J Biometeorol 57, 669–678 (2013).

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