Communities in the Northeast face a number of health risks from the impacts of climate change. These include heat related illness from rising temperatures, respiratory health impacts from worsening air quality, disease and displacement resulting from rising seas and coastal storms, and disruption of critical services like access to medical care during extreme events impact physical and mental health–impacts which are often disproportionately felt by marginalized and low-income residents. CCRUN’s health sector has worked with stakeholders to produce actionable research for use in public health messaging, preparedness, and warning systems. The team uses downscaled models to project health impacts while taking future climate and population changes into account.

Destruction of property resulting in displacement of communities after Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in 2012

Current Research: Heat Vulnerability in New York City 

New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene wanted to better understand how heat risk varies across the city. Partnering with the Health Department, CCRUN researchers analyzed the spatial differences in heat mortality and morbidity. A social vulnerability index (for extreme heat) was developed by the CCRUN team which identified the South Bronx as an area with high heat sensitivity. The Mayor’s Office of Resiliency used the index as the foundation of their Cool Neighborhood’s strategy. The City recognized the need to engage at the neighborhood scale through partnerships with community groups. The Point CDC, a Community Based Organization in Hunts Point, was an important partner and collaborator in implementing the program at the community scale through the Be a Buddy Program. 

Other Projects: 

  • Health Benefits of Urban Greenspace
  • Low-cost Sensors for Long-term Particle Measurements
  • Mapping Heat Vulnerability in Massachusetts
  • Understanding Heat-wave Coping Mechanisms in Low Income Elderly Populations 

Recent publications: 

Jones, H. M., Mecray, E., Birkel, S. D., Conlon, K., Kinney, P., Silva, V. b. s, … Surgeon Rogers, Tm. (2019). Understanding Decision Context to Improve Heat Health Information. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Kinney, P. L. (2018). Temporal Trends in Heat-Related Mortality: Implications for Future Projections. Atmosphere, 9(10), 409.

Kinney, P. L. (2018). Interactions of Climate Change, Air Pollution, and Human Health. Current Environmental Health Reports, 5(1), 179–186. x

Key Stakeholders:

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

New York State Department of Health

Massachusetts Department of Health

City of Boston Elderly Commission


Dr. Patrick Kinney