News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 


Infamous norwester could affect future health of Cantabrians


5 December 2012
Infamous nor’wester could affect future health of Cantabrians – study

Latest research suggests that the predicted increase in heat-related extreme weather events as a result of climate change – in particular the infamous nor’wester wind in Christchurch – could pose a risk to the delivery of hospital services in the future.

Frances Graham, a senior adviser in the environmental and border health team at the Ministry of Health, examined Christchurch hospital data collected from 1990 to 2010 and climate data from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) to determine the effects of heat-related extreme weather events, like the nor’wester wind, on heat-associated adverse health outcomes such as hospital admissions (morbidity).

This research, funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC), is believed to be the first study in New Zealand to examine the relationship between environmental factors like climatic winds and the incidence of heat-induced conditions/illnesses.

Ms Graham took a research sabbatical to pursue this study with the help of the HRC’s Foxley Fellowship.

“The nor’wester is a particularly hot, dry and turbulent wind that results in a sudden increase in temperature and decrease in relative humidity,” says Ms Graham. “The city of Christchurch provided a unique location to examine the effects of the nor’wester on morbidity because of its location in the so-called nor’west belt.”

Preliminary results from Ms Graham’s research show that there was a six per cent increase in the number of people admitted to Christchurch Hospital for diabetes on hot days (25°C), including warm, windy days, and a 10 per cent increase in admissions for renal failure between 1990 and 2010.

Abnormally hot days caused by climatic events like the nor’wester can increase the risk of developing a heat-related condition for those people with mental disorders, hyperthermia and chronic medical conditions such as diabetes. The thermoregulatory, physiological and circulatory adjustments necessary for the human body to cope with extreme heat can also place stress on the kidneys, predisposing patients to dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Ms Graham says modelling data from NIWA’s Dr Brett Mullan, a co-author of the study, along with input from climatologist Professor Glenn McGregor (The University of Auckland), shows that heat waves and other extreme heat-related events are expected to increase in both frequency and magnitude as climate change becomes more prominent. For the Canterbury region, the annual mean temperatures are predicted to increase 0.9°C from 1990 levels by 2040 and 2°C by 2090.

Based on her findings, Ms Graham believes that health providers and policy makers need to start taking preparations for climate change seriously.

“Global warming is changing our world dramatically and generating new risks. Health providers and policy makers need to consider the science and begin applying it to the problem. In some circumstances, that will mean applying the same risk reduction approaches that emergency managers apply to natural disasters such as earthquakes.”

The results from the study will now be used to assess the ability of Christchurch’s hospitals to deliver quality of care during hot days. Addressing heat exposure through urban planning, the design of new hospital facilities and changes to health education are some of the adaptive strategies being explored.

“Long-term health conditions such as diabetes and renal failure are forecast to continue to rise as New Zealand’s population ages. The question is how much the predicted average increase in temperatures will influence this,” says Ms Graham.


-Ends-

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

NZ on Air: More Funding For TV Captions To Increase Access

More funding for TV captions to increase access NZ On Air has increased funding to provide more captions and audio description on television programmes for the hearing and sight impaired. More>>

Music: So Laid Back Country China Album Release

On Friday night, So Laid Back Country China held a gig at Meow for the release of their new album With Knees of Honey in Goodbye Canyon. I briefly spoke with Harriet lead vocals, keyboard) and Michael (lead vocals, guitar) before the gig More>>

Art: Wellington Region Celebrates Matariki

Eight Wellington museums and galleries have joined forces to present a major programme of exhibitions and events to celebrate Matariki 2015, the Māori New Year. The Wellington Matariki Festival will host more than 60 free events and activities between Saturday ... More>>

Wellington: TEDxWellingtonWomen Speakers Unveiled

The lineup is announced today for the highly anticipated upcoming event TEDxWellingtonWomen. Speakers include local women and men who have lived extraordinary lives and have ideas worth spreading. More>>

Culture: RNZB Showcases NZ Artists With Two World Premieres

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s mixed bill Salute - Remembering WW1 which opens on 22 May will showcase the talents of New Zealand artists working at the top of their field. More>>


Books: Witi Ihimaera To Address ‘State Of NZ Literature’at Festival

6 May 2015 MEDIA RELEASE Witi Ihimaera to Address ‘State of NZ Literature’ at Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival The New Zealand Book Council has chosen the 2015 Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival as the stage for its annual address, which ... More>>

Culture: Historic Māori Portraits Travel To The Czech Republic

Image credit: Gottfried Lindauer, Wahanui Reihana Te Huatare, oil on canvas, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr H E Partridge, 1915 More>>

Art: Something Felt, Something Shared - Enjoy

Gabrielle Amodeo, Ruby Joy Eade, Clare McLean, Kalya Ward Curated by Emma Ng May 7 – 30, 2015 Opening: Wednesday May 6, 5.30pm Strange frequencies are channelled through personal narratives and poetic placeholders in Something felt, something ... More>>

Culture: Pukeahu Park ANZAC Day Commemoration 2015

Pukeahu Park ANZAC Day Commemoration 2015 Images from New Zealand Defence Force Click for big version A bugler plays The Last Post Click for big version A View from the top of the Carillion Click for big version Faces old and young Click for big ... More>>

Television: MediaWorks Announces Dancing With The Stars Hosts

MediaWorks and BBC Worldwide ANZ are delighted to announce host Dominic Bowden alongside co-host Sharyn Casey for the hit series Dancing with the Stars. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news