NEISA Research and Products
Overview of NEISA Research
The New England Integrated Sciences and Assessments (NEISA) project is a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort
involving individuals from several departments, Institutes, and Program at UNH, the NH State Climatologist,
the Northeast Regional Climate Center, and a comprehensive range of stakeholders. Our integrated assessment will
continue to focus on the relationship among climate, air quality, and human health. Many studies have shown mortality
and morbidity related to extreme temperatures, short term increases in criteria air pollutants, and pollen and mold events.
All of these air quality measures (biological, chemical, physical) are influenced by seasonal and interannual climate variability.
However, there remains much to be learned regarding the nature of the relationship among climate variability, these
integrated measures of air quality, and the effect on human health. An improved understanding of these dynamic,
non-linear relationships and a focus on developing decision relevant information will help reduce vulnerability to
poor air quality in New England on seasonal and interannual time scales by improving adaptive capacities.
Based on what we have learned from key stakeholders and colleagues working in this field over the course of the past three years,
it has become clear that one of the main barriers to developing a more detailed understanding of the links among climate,
air quality, and human health is the development and analysis of an data base with sufficient detail to be able to distinguish
between the impacts of alternative forces. Such a data base must merge a variety of air quality data (i.e., physical
[meteorological variables], chemical [criteria and hazardous air pollutants], and biological [pollen and mold]) and health
effects data (e.g., mortality, hospital admissions, emergency room visits, physician visits) with sufficient geographical and
temporal detail. Of significance for investigation of interannual climate variability and adverse human health effects, we
need a data base that spans as many years as possible, and preferably 15-25 years. The continued development and analysis of
this integrated database in collaboration with our stakeholders, and the continued generation of decision relevant information,
will be the focus of our efforts.
The main objective for the next five years of the NEISA project is to support existing efforts to improve public health in
New England by continuing to engage key stakeholders in our collaborative effort to:
- improve our understanding of the link among climate, air quality, and human health through the development and analysis of a daily-resolved comprehensive data base on small spatial scales (city or better) for New England for the last 15-25 years that combines broad measures of air quality (biological, chemical, physical) and of public health (mortality, hospital services, physician visits);
- estimate the health care and other economic costs associated with poor air quality;
- develop and model strategies for predicting, communicating, and adapting to poor air quality events as well as contributing to the creation of informed public and private sector policies.
A fourth objective that we propose to begin in year three of this effort is to build upon our improved understanding of
climate variability and change in New England to identify climate information related needs and develop decision support
tools regarding winter climate, and assess the nature of regional climate variations and change in the linked interactions
among hydrology and water quality in response to future climate, land cover change, economic development, and policy interventions.
Over the course of the next five years and in collaboration with our stakeholders, we plan to develop and evaluate a variety of
decision support products:
(1) descriptive data, reports, and presentations detailing interannual variability and decadal trends
in climate, atmospheric chemistry, and pollen. We have already published a report on indicators of climate change in the northeast
(Indicators of Climate Change in New England) that will be expanded to investigate the impacts of these changes
and we have another report in preparation on the influence of NAO on New EnglandŐs winter climate;
(2) improved messaging regarding daily air chemistry forecasts provided by EPA and NOAA. We plan to work with the federal and state
air resources agencies responsible for issuing these forecasts to develop new lines of communication so many more health care providers
have easy access to the information and readily accessible means to provide this information to their patients (many of whom are
the most vulnerable to poor air quality events). Also develop new forecasts for pollen and mold and feed this into the same communication
pipeline. This effort will improve adaptive capabilities and will also lay communication framework for future outlooks that we develop;
(3) forecast for the timing and magnitude of the fall rise in hospital admissions;
(4) illness cost of air pollution (by day, week, month year, and in the future) for every county in New England; and
(5) targeted forecasts of opportunity such as winter snowfall, winter storm or spring water quality and quantity.
The NEISA project integrates a wide range of research and observations on air quality, climate, and health performed by a variety
of federal agencies, universities, other institutions, and NEISA to develop and evaluate a suite of decision support products in
collaboration with our stakeholders. This collaboration relies upon early and continued communication and interaction with our
stakeholders. NEISA will integrate and apply information from the natural and social sciences to provide our stakeholders with
decision support toolkits that will reduce the risk of adverse health effects resulting from poor air quality.