On Sept. 28, in coordination with the White House Summit on Building Climate Resilient Communities, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE) and Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response’s (ASPR) Geospatial Team launched the Climate and Health Outlook Portal , an interactive tool that provides actionable, county-level data that can be used to prepare for climate-related hazard events. Policymakers, health care providers, and the general public can use the tool to better understand the health impacts of climate-related hazard forecasts in their communities and plan accordingly.
“This past summer’s extreme weather events show the growing health risks of climate change, and HHS is protecting public health by making planning ahead as easy as possible,” said Adm Rachel Levine, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health. “Public health and emergency preparedness officials can save lives by using this platform to prepare for climate-related hazard events. Having actionable information at the county level can reduce illness and deaths and help protect those who are most at risk.”
The Portal, hosted on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Geospatial Portal, builds on an OCCHE publication known as the Climate and Health Outlook, which links seasonal weather and hazard forecasts to health impacts. This beta version of the Climate and Health Outlook Portal features interactive maps showing county-level extreme heat, wildfire, and drought forecasts for the current month, along with county-level data on individual risk factors that may make people more vulnerable to negative health outcomes from these climate hazards. Future iterations of the tool will incorporate additional climate-related hazards and individual risk factors.
“More and more, we’ve been seeing multiple climate-related hazards occurring at once, as well as chain reactions where one hazard leads to another, such as prolonged extreme heat contributing to drought, which contributes to wildfire. These compounding and cascading climate-related hazard events worsen negative health outcomes and exacerbate existing vulnerabilities,” said OCCHE’s Director John Balbus. “Our new Climate and Health Outlook Portal shows which counties are expected to experience multiple climate-related hazards each month, giving the communities that will be most impacted the time to plan and prepare.”
The Climate and Health Outlook series and the new Portal use the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center’s monthly heat and drought outlooks and the National Interagency Fire Center’s monthly wildfire outlook to present estimates of which U.S. counties are expected to experience climate-related health hazards in the current month. The Portal also uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other federal agencies on social, environmental, and health risk factors that may contribute to an increased risk of negative health outcomes for individuals who have these risk factors and are exposed to relevant climate-related hazards.
OCCHE, overseen by HHS Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Rachel Levine, was established by executive order to address the health impacts of climate change on the American people. OCCHE’s priorities include identifying communities with disproportionate exposures to climate hazards and addressing health disparities exacerbated by climate impacts.
The Climate and Health Outlook Portal can be found here.