Research ArticleATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Population dynamics modify urban residents’ exposure to extreme temperatures across the United States

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Science Advances  18 Dec 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 12, eaay3452
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay3452

Abstract

Exposure to extreme temperatures is one primary cause of weather-related human mortality and morbidity. Global climate change raises the concern of public health under future extreme events, yet spatiotemporal population dynamics have been long overlooked in health risk assessments. Here, we show that the diurnal intra-urban movement alters residents’ exposure to extreme temperatures during cold and heat waves. To do so, we incorporate weather simulations with commute-adjusted population profiles over 16 major U.S. metropolitan areas. Urban residents’ exposure to heat waves is intensified by 1.9° ± 0.7°C (mean ± SD among cities), and their exposure to cold waves is attenuated by 0.6° ± 0.8°C. The higher than expected exposure to heat waves significantly correlates with the spatial temperature variability and requires serious attention. The essential role of population dynamics should be emphasized in temperature-related climate adaptation strategies for effective and successful interventions.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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