Theme 1: Climate Resilience

Climate change will affect the health of the UK population through increases in the frequency and intensity of heatwaves, and an increased risk of coastal flooding.  Recent extreme weather (e.g. 2013 and 2015 floods, 2013 heat wave, and the cold winter of 2011/12) underscore the need for the development and evaluation of health protection measures, such as the Heatwave Plan for England and the Cold Weather Plan. The overall aim of the research is to support and enable effective adaptation to climate change and increase resilience to extreme weather.

Theme 1 lead: Dr Shakoor Hajat

Project 1Health effect of hot and cold weather

Temperature extremes are associated with a range of effects on mortality and morbidity. We have found that high temperatures increase the risk of injury in children, and low temperature increase the risk of injury in the elderly.  We have analysed syndromic surveillance data to estimate the burden of ill health, including heatstroke during the 2013 heat wave episode, in collaboration with PHE’s real-time syndromic surveillance team (ReSST). New methods will be developed for the evaluation of the heatwave and cold weather plans for England by assessing population changes in the temperature-mortality risk profile in the years since the intervention was introduced. We are also exploring local factors that modify the relationship between temperature and daily mortality.

Researchers: Dr Shakoor Hajat, Dr Sari Kovats, Dr Peninah Murage

Project 2 – Improving the use of climate data in health impacts assessment

Climate science is essential for climate impacts research. This research, led by the Met Office, has evaluated the use of observed and modelled climate data in risk assessments for heat effects on human population health. We have also assessed the impact of climate change on the future risk of heatwaves in England and Wales.

Researchers: Dr Michael Sanderson, Dr Shakoor Hajat, Dr Sari Kovats, Dr Clare Heaviside

Project 3 – Flooding and health and wellbeing

The UK experiences frequent flooding. More than 5000 homes were flooded in the winter of 2013/4, during the stormiest period of weather the UK has experienced for at least 20 years. Current flooding and health research includes:

  • A qualitative study of the factors that increase and that decrease community resilience after flooding, led the University of Exeter and co-funded by the ESRC, using face to face interviews with people affected by the flooding in Somerset. (click here for more details)
  • HPRU staff are contributing to the PHE National Study on Flooding and Health. More than 2000 households have been surveyed to explore the mechanisms by which flooding affects mental well-being and stress.
  • The impact of coastal flooding on health infrastructure and frontline staff has examined the responses in a recent event in relation to emergency preparedness and disruption to health and social care service delivery.
  • Epidemiological analyses of the impacts of flooding on mental health.

Researchers: Dr Sari KovatsDr Catherine Butler, Dr Owen LandegDr Ai MilojevicProfessor Neil Adger, Dr Tara Quinn

Project 4Assessing the risks from climate change

A range of methods have been used to quantify the future health burdens attributable to climate change. We have undertaken evidence reviews of the implications of climate change for the UK as part of the Second Climate Change Risk Assessment for the UK government.

Researchers: Dr Sari Kovats, Dr Katherine Arbuthnott, Dr Shakoor Hajat


Papadakis G, Chalabi Z, Thornes JE (2018) Ambulance service resource planning for extreme temperatures: analysis of ambulance 999 calls during episodes of extreme temperature in London, UK. Atmosphere, (5)  1- 17.

Butler C, Walker-Springett K, Adger WN (2018) Narratives of recovery from the impact of floods on mental health and well-being. Social Science and Medicine, 216: 67-73.

Sanderson M, Economou T, Salmon K, Jones S (2017) Historical Trends and Variability in Heat Waves in the United Kingdom. Atmosphere. (10), 191



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