The effect of heterogeneous severe drought on all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in the Northern Rockies and Plains of the United States

Yeongjin Gwon, Yuanyuan Ji, Azar M. Abadi, Austin Rau, Jesse D. Berman, Ronald D. Leeper, Jared Rennie, Richard Nagaya, Jesse E. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Drought is a distinct and complicated climate hazard that regularly leads to severe economic impacts. Changes in the frequency and occurrence of drought due to anthropogenic climate change can lead to new and unanticipated outcomes. To better prepare for health outcomes, more research is needed to develop methodologies to understand potential consequences. This study suggests a new methodology for assessing the impact of monthly severe drought exposure on mortality in the Northern Rockies and Plains of the United States from 2000 to 2018. A two-stage model with the power prior approach was applied to integrate heterogeneous severe drought pattern and estimate overall risk ratios of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality related to multiple drought indices (the US Drought Monitor, 6- and 12-month Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index, 6- and 12 month Evaporative Demand Drought Index). Under severe drought, the risk ratios of all-cause mortality are 1.050 (95 % Cr: 1.031 to 1.071, USDM), 1.041 (95 % Cr: 1.022 to 1.060, 6-SPEI), 1.009 (95 % Cr: 0.989 to 1.031, 12SPEI), 1.045 (95 % Cr: 1.022 to 1.067, 6-EDDI), and 1.035 (95 % Cr: 1.009 to 1.062, 12-EDDI); cardiovascular mortality are 1.057 (95 % Cr: 1.023 to 1.091, USDM), 1.028 (95 % Cr: 0.998 to 1.059, 6-SPEI), 1.005 (95 % Cr: 0.973 to 1.040, 12-SPEI), 1.042 (95 % Cr: 1.005 to 1.080, 6-EDDI), and 1.004 (95 % Cr: 0.959 to 1.049, 12-EDDI). Our results showed that (i) a model with properly accounted for heterogeneous exposure pattern had greater risk ratios if statistically significant; (ii) a mid-term (6-month) severe drought had higher risk ratios compared to longer-term (12-month) drought; and (iii) different severe droughts affect populations in a different way. These results expand the existing knowledge of drought relationship to increasing mortality in the United States. The findings from this study highlight the need for communities and policymakers to establish effective drought-prevention initiatives in this region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number169033
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume912
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 20 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023

Keywords

  • All-cause mortality
  • Cardiovascular mortality
  • Climate change
  • Drought
  • Power prior
  • Risk ratio

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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