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Modelling the variation of land surface temperature as determinant of risk of heat-related health events

Author(s): Kestens Yan | Brand Allan | Fournier Michel | Goudreau Sophie | Kosatsky Tom | Maloley Matthew | Smargiassi Audrey

Journal: International Journal of Health Geographics
ISSN 1476-072X

Volume: 10;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 7;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background The evaluation of exposure to ambient temperatures in epidemiological studies has generally been based on records from meteorological stations which may not adequately represent local temperature variability. Here we propose a spatially explicit model to estimate local exposure to temperatures of large populations under various meteorological conditions based on satellite and meteorological data. Methods A general linear model was used to estimate surface temperatures using 15 LANDSAT 5 and LANDSAT 7 images for Quebec Province, Canada between 1987 and 2002 and spanning the months of June to August. The images encompassed both rural and urban landscapes and predictors included: meteorological records of temperature and wind speed, distance to major water bodies, Normalized Differential Vegetation Index (NDVI), land cover (built and bare land, water, or vegetation), latitude, longitude, and week of the year. Results The model explained 77% of the variance in surface temperature, accounting for both temporal and spatial variations. The standard error of estimates was 1.42°C. Land cover and NDVI were strong predictors of surface temperature. Conclusions This study suggests that a statistical approach to estimating surface temperature incorporating both spatially explicit satellite data and time-varying meteorological data may be relevant to assessing exposure to heat during the warm season in the Quebec. By allowing the estimation of space- and time-specific surface temperatures, this model may also be used to assess the possible impacts of land use changes under various meteorological conditions. It can be applied to assess heat exposure within a large population and at relatively fine-grained scale. It may be used to evaluate the acute health effect of heat exposure over long time frames. The method proposed here could be replicated in other areas around the globe for which satellite data and meteorological data is available.

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Tango Rapperswil

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