Health

Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfire, poor air quality and illnesses transmitted by food, water and disease carriers such as mosquitoes and ticks. This section explores some of these impacts and the associated data within ClimateData.ca relevant to human health.

Context

There is scientific consensus that the climate is changing, mainly as a result of human activity, and that this situation directly endangers the health of populations. The gradual global warming and the hydrometeorological hazards which result from it (heatwaves, floods) can have consequences for crucial public health elements such as the quality of air, water, foodstuffs, and housing, all of which increase the risk of disease (zoonotic or chronic).

Case Studies

The effects of climate change on hospitals

In response to British Columbia’s new climate reality, two recent studies provide recommendations for improving the infrastructure of existing health facilities and introducing new building codes for future buildings.

Physical and mental health impacts of climate change in New Brunswick

In New Brunswick, as elsewhere, climate change is now a public health problem. The occurrence of extreme weather events (such as floods causing coastal erosion and damage to infrastructure, etc.) worsen the physical and mental health conditions of the population.

Drought and Human Health in Canada

Droughts can impact human health and well-being in a many ways and are expected to increase in Canada.

Extreme heat waves in Québec

2010’s and 2018’s heat waves in Québec offer important lessons as the world gets hotter – and the population faces more health risks.

Lyme disease in Ontario

Lyme disease incidence is increasing in Ontario, particularly in the eastern part of the province. This trend is likely to continue as climate change progresses.

Sector Resources

Learning Zone

Further information on using climate data or selecting a relevant historical dataset can be found in the Learning Zone.

Analyze

For indices not included in the pre-calculated variable list, the Analyze page can be used to create custom indices, such as Heat Wave.

Data by Health Region

View climate data for a number of health related variables analysed at the level of health regions.

Health Sector Methods

During the initial development phase for ClimateData.ca, Ouranos coordinated efforts to consult users of the health sector. This included the preparation of a bilingual survey to identify the most important health impacts, and related climate indices, to be considered on the website and how climate information should be presented to be of most use to stakeholders in this sector.

Related Variables

Explore variables to learn about how data was used to impact climate related decisions in specific contexts.

The Hottest Day describes the warmest daytime temperature in the selected time period. In general, the hottest day of the year occurs during the summer months.

High temperatures are important. They determine if plants and animals can thrive, they limit or enable outdoor activities, define how we design our buildings and vehicles, and shape our transportation and energy use. However, when temperatures are very hot, people – especially the elderly – are much more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Many outdoor activities become dangerous or impossible in very high temperatures.

Technical Description:

The highest maximum temperature (Tmax) in the selected time period. Use the Variable menu option to view annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index.

 


Days with Tmax > 32°C describes the number of days where the daytime high temperature is warmer than 32°C. This index gives an indication of number of very hot days in the selected time period.

High temperatures are important. They determine if plants and animals can thrive, they limit or enable outdoor activities, define how we design our buildings and vehicles, and shape our transportation and energy use. However, when temperatures are very hot, people – especially the elderly – are much more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Many outdoor activities become dangerous or impossible in very high temperatures.

Technical description:

The number of days with a maximum temperature (Tmax) greater than 32°C. Use the Variable menu option to view annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index.


The Coldest Day describes the lowest nighttime temperature in the selected time period. In general, the coldest day of the year occurs during the winter months.

Cold weather is an important aspect of life in Canada, and many places in Canada are well adapted to very cold winters. Cold temperatures affect our health and safety, determine what plants and animals can live in the area, limit or enable outdoor activities, define how we design our buildings and vehicles, and shape our transportation and energy use.

Technical Description:

The lowest minimum temperature (Tmin) in the selected time period. Use the Variable menu option to view monthly, seasonal and annual values for this index.


Wet Days >=20mm describes the number of days where at least 20 mm of precipitation (rain and snow combined) falls in the selected time period.

Adequate precipitation is crucial to water availability, agriculture, electricity generation and wildfire suppression.

Technical description:

The number of days with precipitation >= 20 mm. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index.


Tropical Nights (Days with Tmin >22°C) describes the number of days where the nighttime low temperature is warmer than 22°C.  Hot summer days and heat waves become particularly stressful if overnight temperatures do not provide cooling relief. Tropical nights make it more difficult for the body to cool down and recover from hot days.

Elderly people, the homeless, and those who live in houses or apartments without air conditioning are especially vulnerable during these heat events, particularly if they last for more than a few days.

Technical description:

A Tropical Night occurs when the daily minimum temperature (Tmin) is greater than 22°C. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index. Visit the Analyze page to calculate Tropical Nights using different minimum temperature thresholds.