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Columbia Climate and Health Program (CCHP)


The Columbia Climate and Health Program fosters innovative, cross-disciplinary, translational scholarship on the human health dimensions of climate change, with the goal of advancing society's capacity to understand, anticipate, and prevent adverse health consequences.

Mission and Goals

The mission of the Columbia Climate and Health Program (CCHP) is to foster innovative, cross-disciplinary, translational scholarship on the human health dimensions of climate change, with the goal of advancing society’s capacity to understand, anticipate, and prevent adverse health consequences.

One of society’s greatest challenges in coming decades will be to enhance population health in the face of emerging risks related to climate change.  Overcoming this challenge will require new science to identify impacts, mechanisms, and policy levers, and a new workforce of well-trained professionals who can translate that science into action.

The three overarching goals of the program are to:

-Catalyze cross-disciplinary, cutting edge science to address basic questions about how climate change affects health.

-Train a new generation of professionals in the public health dimensions of climate change vulnerabilities, impacts, and adaptation strategies.

-Partner with governments, NGOs, and clinicians to ensure that the knowledge we generate informs strategies for reducing harm to vulnerable populations.


Overall Objectives

High quality, action-oriented science lies at the core of the Columbia Climate and Health Program’s mission.  We have identified two broad domains of scientific discovery in which the Program is likely to have unique and powerful leverage over the next 5 years. These are:

1) Research on mechanisms, emerging trends, and future impacts.

Climate change affects health through complex mechanisms connecting changes in the global atmosphere, regional ecology, population social structures, human exposures and behaviors, physiological responses, and bio-molecular changes. Within this complex system, our research aims to elucidate mechanisms, to identify climate signals in long-term health outcome trends, and to project impacts into the future under plausible climate scenarios.  Current research projects examine effects of heat waves on urban mortality and adverse birth outcomes, effects of humidity extremes on episodic meningitis and influenza outbreaks, and climate influences on work productivity.

2) Health benefits from greenhouse pollutant mitigation activities.

Many policies that reduce greenhouse pollutant emissions (e.g., CO2, methane, black carbon) also deliver immediate and localized environmental benefits (often called ancillary benefits or co-benefits).  While this point is often made, rigorous efforts to quantify local, short-term benefits are scarce.  The Program is developing and applying new methods to assess health co-benefits of emerging climate mitigation policies, with a focus on urban areas including New York City.  Our goal is to support NYC’s global leadership in sustainable urban development, addressing benefits for health relating to improved air quality, urban heat island, and quality of life measures.

Ongoing Projects

CCRUN: Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast
Absolute humidity and the seasonality of Influenza transmission
Influenza outbreak prediction: applying data assimilation methodologies to develop skillful model forecasts of an inherently chaotic, nonlinear system
Intervening to improve birth weight and infant respiratory health in rural Ghana
The role of airborne dust and climate in meningococcal meningitis outbreaks in the Sahel
Increasing net annual temperature-related mortality in a warming climate
Impact of climate variability and urbanization on water storage practices and vector-borne disease incidence: Developing an understanding for risk prediction and response using Delhi, India as context
Climate, pollen and allergic diseases
Global health and climate impacts of sector-specific pollution emissions 
Aviation project
Black Carbon Exposure, DNA Methylation, Airway Inflammation in Pediatric Asthma
Children's Health and Vulnerability to Heat and Ozone in New York City
The impact of environmental conditions on the productivity of agricultural workers