About the Project

Extreme heat is the deadliest natural disaster in the United States, killing an average of 130 people per year. The Rio Grande/Bravo (RGB) region of the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico is already especially vulnerable to extreme heat. Daily maximum temperatures in the region can exceed 110°F (43°C), and minimum temperatures, usually measured just before sunrise, can sometimes exceed 85°F (29°C). In the future, climate scientists predict temperatures to be even hotter than today--up to 7-10°F higher by 2100 in the RGB border region. As heat waves become longer, more frequent, and more severe, the public health impacts of extreme heat will only be exacerbated.

This U.S.-Mexico border heat-health partnership began as a pilot project of the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS), focused on the region encompassing El Paso County (Texas), Doña Ana County (New Mexico), and Ciudad Juárez (Chihuahua). Partners include academic researchers from universities along the U.S.-Mexico border, members of the local National Weather Forecast Office, city and county officials in each of the three focus cities, and state officials from New Mexico, Texas, and Chihuahua. The ultimate goal of the partnership is to reduce heat-related illness and deaths in the region by developing the capacity to prepare for and respond to extreme heat events. Several working groups ("work streams") are addressing these issues by improving regional heat forecasts, assessing current knowledge of extreme heat vulnerability and public health risks, improving public health data collection, and improving public awareness of the impacts of extreme heat.

Recent Project Updates:
August 2018 - Augustin Vintzileos (University of Maryland, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center) has developed an experimental global forecast of excessive heat events (3-day periods with unusually high temperatures). Dr. Vintzileos has generously shared El Paso region forecasts with the Border Heat-Health Partnership, this summer. He and his colleagues are now evaluating the skill of the forecasts. In 2019, he anticipates conveying these forecasts via the web. For technical details, see this presentation https://ams.confex.com/ams/98Annual/webprogram/Paper334037.html and this PDF https://www.weather.gov/media/sti/nggps/Presentations%202017/Day%202%202....

July 2018 - Border heat-health learning network. As part of the Hot Spots for Heat Resilience in Border Cities initiative, we convened a teleconference of practitioners and researchers working on reducing the public health risks of extreme heat along the U.S.-Mexico border. If you are interested in participating, contact Gregg Garfin (gmgarfin@email.arizona.edu).

Spring + Summer 2018 - We established connections with organizations that are working to reduce another heat-related public health risk - skin cancer. Great work by the Rio Grande Cancer Foundation's Sunscreen initiative (https://rgcf.org/programs/sunscreen-initiative-in-el-paso) and the University of Arizona Skin Cancer Institute's outreach and education program (http://uacc.arizona.edu/sci/outreach-education).