J5.2 Building Resilience to Extreme Heat: The National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS)

Wednesday, 25 January 2017: 10:45 AM
Conference Center: Tahoma 5 (Washington State Convention Center )
Juli Trtanj, NOAA, Silver Spring, MD; and H. M. Jones, S. Saha, G. Luber, M. D. Hawkins, and W. Higgins

Communities across the nation are increasingly facing more extreme heat events.  The latest National Climate Assessment (NCA) found that extreme heat events will be more frequent, more intense, and longer in duration in the future. “What now seems like an extremely hot day will become commonplace.”  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that heat waves will be more frequent, last longer, and start earlier.  And you do not have to look much farther than the heat waves of 2016—both in the United States and across the globe—to see that the future is now. Whether you are in a historically temperate geography or one more typically experiencing heat waves, there will be more heat events.  How will that affect the most vulnerable populations, the elderly and children, outdoor workers, athletes, and even pets? It’s not too soon to start planning, and planning differently--across time scales, with new partners, and stimulating innovation to support longer term sustainability and community resilience to extreme heat.  But importantly, what should be predicted, at what time scale, for which vulnerable population, how should it be delivered, who is using it, how effective it is, and what other research and observations are needed? 

With emerging capacity to predict aspects of heat across time scales from days to emerging 3-4 week outlooks, to calls for seasonal and yearly information from the health community, the demand for a suite of climate and weather information is emerging.  At present, many cities and counties in the US and worldwide, have heat/health warning systems.  Many of these systems are near stand-alone sentinels or systems born of need and organic creation, use different methods and models, and are largely at weather and emergency response time scales.  How do we mine the wealth of knowledge already learned from existing heat health early warning systems and the practitioners who use them, and apply it to the development of other systems and at different time scales? 

To address the current gaps, and foster forward planning for increased extreme heat events, in June of 2015 NOAA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS).   NIHHIS, a multi-agency collaboration, working at state, local and international levels, is designed to facilitate an integrated approach to providing a suite of decision support services that reduce heat-related illness and death and to mitigate other effects of extreme heat.  NIHHIS sustains engagement across the public health, emergency management, disaster risk reduction, planning, housing, communication, climate, weather and other science communities.  To facilitate shared learning across heat health activities one of the key elements of NIHHIS is the development of a common framework for its partners and pilots to use.  The framework questions include consideration of institutional capacity and partnerships, heat-health parameters and monitoring, data and forecast product needs, and engagement & communication strategies. Since its inception, NIHHIS now has over eight Federal partners and a burgeoning mix of pilots, projects and partners at state, local and international levels. This presentation will highlight NIHHS framework, pilots in El Paso and the Rio Grande/Bravo region and in New York City/New England region, other NIHHIS Pilots, White House focus on NIHHIS, key partners, the NIHHIS portal, and international efforts building on the NIHHIS framework.  This talk will include the key agency research program contributions to NIHHIS, highlight state and local engagements, and identify the known observational, data and forecast needs.

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