Biometeorology is the study of how the atmosphere interacts with living organisms. There are three main areas of biometeorology – animals, plants, and humans. The majority of our biometeorology work in the ClimRISE Lab has been examining the impact of weather on human health, especially temperature-related deaths.

In the U.S., heat-related mortality is the most common weather-related reason for dying. More than hurricanes, tornadoes, or lightning. However, winter is the season with markedly higher rates of overall mortality, often due to respiratory and cardiovascular illness spurred on by extreme cold events. Both cold- and heat-related mortality are current areas of interest, especially with regard to how climate change will affect this relationship.

We often approach human biometeorology topics from the synoptic climatological perspective. That is, a human being is not necessarily exposed to temperature, or humidity, or wind acting in isolation, but rather, the synergistic impacts of all weather variables (i.e. the entire suite of weather conditions), act in unison to impact a person’s health. Such a perspective naturally leads us to explore how air masses (or weather types) have impacted human health.